Ali Ansari

What a gay sex tape says about the state of Iran

(Photo: Getty)

The revelation that an Iranian official in charge of Islamic values has been caught on video having sex with another man will have come as no surprise to much of the Iranian population.  

The hypocrisy of the ruling class has long been a topic of discussion among Iranians

Few care about the individual’s sexual preferences but many have contempt for the hypocrisy that is emblematic of the ruling class. Reza Saghati, the local representative of the ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Gilan province, appears to have been imprudent (or hubristic) enough to video his escapades. One of those videos then found its way, courtesy of local activists, onto a local social media channel. This was swiftly followed by another leak which suggested that a local cleric in charge of maintaining good Islamic morals was also indulging in behaviour contrary to his beliefs. 

The hypocrisy of the ruling class has long been a topic of discussion among Iranians. There are frequent criticisms of the obscene levels of wealth elites have accumulated, the preferential treatment they receive and the alacrity with which the most senior officials send their sons and daughters abroad while Iranians struggle at home. There is also plenty of anger about the sanctimonious piety that the state preaches and imposes upon the population.  

This imposition of strict Islamic strictures, the hallmark of the Raisi presidency, led to a serious crisis for the Islamic Republic last year. When an Iranian woman, Mahsa Jina Amini, died in custody last September for refusing to wear the hijab, there were mass protests – the biggest since 2019 – that rocked the regime. 

But once Iran was confident the protests had been suppressed, the regime revealed its ideological fossilisation. Having wavered on the strict enforcement of hijab for women in early January – recognising perhaps that many of the youthful protestors came from the families of the very security forces sent to suppress them – Ayatollah Khamenei soon rebounded. Within

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