After an embarrassing video was posted online, showing Rezza Teskatti a senior official having sex with another man, he was suspended from his post in the Gilan province. The official has been at the forefront of the regime's crackdown on women who refuse to wear a hair covering, known as a hijab.
Minister of Culture Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili was the first to respond to the clip that was posted earlier in the month on an opposition Telegram channel and said over the weekend that the regime had no indication of any negative behavior attributed to the official.
Homosexual relations are outlawed in Iran and punishable by death, according to Islamic law, while members of the LGBTQ community have been persecuted by the regime and often forced into hiding. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was ridiculed in 2007 when he told the UN that there are no homosexuals in Iran.
Opposition members said the government in Tehran was hypocritical and that the cultural center the official established espouses pious behavior and modesty, including women's modest dress, such as covering their hair with a hijab. The video clip was posted just two months before the anniversary of the nationwide women's protest sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in 2022, who was arrested after she allegedly violated the country's dress code.
The protests, in which women have played a leading role, quickly escalated into calls for the overthrow of Iran’s theocracy, which took power after the 1979 revolution. Authorities responded with a heavy crackdown. Iran's morality police resumed enforcement of the hijab laws earlier this month. The latest crackdown came just days after a video went viral, showing a young girl in Tehran screaming “I won’t go with you! Help! Help!” as a member of the morality police attempted to physically drag her into a van to detain her for violations of the mandatory hijab law in Iran.