While homosexuality is forbidden in Iran, and indeed all other Muslim countries, I was fascinated to discover that sex change operations are not painted with the same brush. From the BBC news story:
"Islam has a cure for people suffering from this problem. If they want to change their gender, the path is open," says Hojatol Islam Muhammad Mehdi Kariminia, the religious cleric responsible for gender reassignment.
The problem is that gay people who don't really want to change genders are seeing this as their only opportunity to be able to live out their lives in their home country. While a sex change may obviously still have a social stigma attached, it is not illegal and so many are opting to have the surgery to escape being persecuted as homosexuals. While there is an overlap between the gay and transsexual communities, they are not one and the same, so I pity the poor souls who have to turn their lives upside down to avoid breaking the law. A gay man may act feminine, but it doesn't necessarily mean he wants to be a woman.
A film has been made regarding the case of one such transsexual: Be Like Others.
I'll keep an eye out for it and give a review eventually, I'm sure. I just wish I could see the BBC special on the topic, but unless someone uploads it to the Internet, I doubt I will.
I just wonder what textual interpretation led to such a progressive slant on gender reassignment surgery? I wonder how Kariminia justified his edict? And how brave to risk losing credibility by making such a statement. I've found this page of quotes, but as usual it's all down to interpretation and I'm sure anyone can get whatever perspective they prefer out of the quotes.
Here's another article on the topic. Interesting stuff.
I guess it goes without saying that no mention seems to be made of gay women or female to male sex change operations. I may do some research on the topic.