On Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly announced that he was gay in a widely discussed article in Businessweek. “While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now,” wrote Cook. “So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.”
In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal, the news broke that Apple is in talks with Iran to bring the iPhone to the country in the event that financial sanctions are lifted. Even though Iran has been on an anti-Western trajectory since the revolution of 1979, Apple believes that there is an attainable market in Tehran as business, previously stalled in retaliation for Iran continuing its nuclear program, begins to regrow.
“Senior Apple executives have met potential Iranian distributors at Apple’s regional headquarters on London’s Hanover Street, people familiar with the matter said,” reported Benoit Faucon. “The Cupertino, Calif., company explored having Iranian partners sell Apple products at so-called premium resellers, some of the people said.”
Listed obstacles to Apple entering Iranian market ranged from banking restrictions to the company finding it “difficult to choose partners among mobile-service providers.” The Wall Street Journal’s report went to print a few hours before Cook publicly came out of the closet, but the fact that homosexuality is forbidden in Iran, often times punishable by death, should leave the company with serious hesitation.
After lauding American progress, Cook did touch on American injustices toward the LGBTQ community. “Still, there are laws on the books in a majority of states that allow employers to fire people based solely on their sexual orientation. There are many places where landlords can evict tenants for being gay, or where we can be barred from visiting sick partners and sharing in their legacies. Countless people, particularly kids, face fear and abuse every day because of their sexual orientation.”
In August, The Daily Beast ran a story documenting the execution of two gay men in Iran. Their crime? Consensually touching each other. The pair were merely two in “part of a wave of executions in Iran, with more than 400 in the first half of 2014 alone, according to the NGO Iran Human Rights.”
If Apple, under Cook’s leadership, elects to enter the Iranian market despite the systematic execution of LGBTQ individuals, the company sends a clear message that its bottom line trumps helping those stuck with bottom rate human rights conditions. Proponents of “socially conscious” business practices ought to be outraged.
On climate change, the company states:
We strive to create products that are the best they can be in every way. Products that are beautiful, easy to use, and powerful. And the same passion for innovation goes into how we think about environmental responsibility. It’s why we work tirelessly to reduce our impact on climate change, find ways to use greener materials, and conserve the resources we all need to thrive. And while we’re proud of the progress we’ve made, we know we can still do better. It won’t all happen overnight. But we can work to get better every day.
Regardless of the “climate change” debate, what is definitively clear is that Iran murders gay people with a genocidal mission of annihilating those who wish to hold hands with their partners. Curiously, Apple solely highlights the weather aspect of the environment and neglects any mention of the human rights abuses – genocidal environment – festering in Iran. Even more ghastly than Apple’s inaction is its willingness to enable and encourage said government.
A company truly motivated by a sense of moral obligation would balk at the idea of rejuvenating an economy controlled by a genocidal regime. Faced with a perceived wrong in the environment, Apple sprang into action. Confronted with real evil in Iran and the company has looked to capitalize.
In his coming out essay, Cook writes that “Part of social progress is understanding that a person is not defined only by one’s sexuality, race, or gender.” Here’s to hoping Apple holds Iran to the same standard and stands with LGBTQ individuals standing down annihilation.
Daniel Mael is a senior at Brandeis University, a reporter for TruthRevolt.org and a contributor to the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.