A gay Iranian refugee living in Vancouver is suing the CBC, along with former CBC journalists Evan Solomon and Farid Haerinejad claiming they outed him in a documentary.
He claims the film Out in Iran: Inside Iran’s Secret Gay World ruined his life.
The 2007 documentary looks at the struggle for human rights of gay activists in Iran, and the climate of fear and violence perpetrated by the state.
The suit centres around a sequence filmed with a hidden camera in a Tehran food court in 2006 that was a hang out for gays and transgender people.
In the documentary, presenter Solomon can be heard stating “We keep our camera hidden, but Mani (a character in the film) has told the crowd that we’re there to film, and there’s group consent.”
On camera after the documentary finishes, Solomon says “And about the people you saw in that item, all of them agreed to show their faces on camera, fully aware of the potential consequences”
Farzam Dadashzadeh, who claims he appears in the film, denies both.
Farzam claims his sexuality was a secret at the time from everyone except for one aunt living overseas, because of Iran’s violent repression of gays.
He claims his face appears in “lingering close ups” in the food court sequence, but that he was never informed he was being filmed or given the chance to leave or conceal his identity.
He claims when the film went viral in Iran he was disowned by his family, beaten and arrested for being gay, questioned about his homosexuality and the film by police, and sexually assaulted in prison.
He claims he was later rejected from the military, and had “sexual disorder” appended to his identity card which made it impossible to find work.
The suit claims Farzam fled the nation as a refugee in 2011, and was accepted to Canada in 2014.
Farzam claims the content of the film, which includes images of homosexuals who had been lashed or hung by authorites, proves its makers were well aware of the consequences for Iranian gays. He alleges they put his life in danger by failing to get his consent.
None of these allegations has been proven in court.
The CBC say it’s aware of the suit, and considering its next steps.