Though homosexual relationships are banned in Iran, it might surprise you to learn that the conservative nation has allowed gender-reassignment surgery since the Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader in charge of the 1979 Islamic revolution, passed a fatwa declaring them legal for "diagnosed transsexuals" a full 25 years ago.
Iran provides more sex change operations than any other country excluding Thailand — and it's not just limited to permission. The government covers up to half the cost of the surgery for those who can't afford it, and the change in gender is also recognized on your birth certificate.
To see what the religious cleric responsible for gender reassignment says,
. Hojatol Islam Muhammad Mehdi Kariminia says that the operation is no more sinful than "changing wheat to flour to bread." The key to the popularity of the surgery, according to a documentarian following post-surgery men in Iran, is avoiding shame. Receiving a diagnosis labeling you a transsexual makes it a medical condition and erases the question of morality.
Does it surprise you that this very traditional country has such an open mind about sex change surgeries? Do you think the fact that homosexuality is punishable by death will lead more men to seek gender reassignment for people who are actually gay and not transsexual?