In an interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, CNN's Piers Morgan asked him about his love life and got into an exchange with him about women not being able to ski by themselves in Iran.
"How many times in your life, Mr. President, have you been properly in love?" Morgan asked at the end of the interview. "I'm in love with all of humanity," answered Ahmadinejad, to which Morgan responded "That might be the best answer I've ever heard to that question." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Morgan did not bring up the UN Secretary-General recently expressing "serious concerns" about Iran's human rights record. He did press Ahmadinejad over his support of Syrian President Assad and the daughter of the former Iranian President being in jail for protesting his regime, but those were the only human rights concerns he highlighted before asking about Iran's ban on homosexuality and women being prevented from skiing by themselves.
"When people talk of freedom – and I've heard you talk of freedom – they look at Iran and they say that there are still laws banning homosexuality. You have a law that bans single women from going skiing on their own," posed Morgan. He failed to ask about protesters being jailed, infringements on religious freedom, and juvenile executions, among other numerous human rights abuse concerns.
An odd exchange ensued, with Ahmadinejad denying the restriction on women skiing alone. "Now you have managed to mix a number of things here. For a single lady to go on a trip to go skiing, is that forbidden in Iran? Who has told you that?" he told Morgan.
A partial transcript of the interview, which aired on September 24 on Piers Morgan Tonight at 9:52 p.m. EDT, is as follows:
PIERS MORGAN: When people talk of freedom – and I've heard you talk of freedom – they look at Iran and they say that there are still laws banning homosexuality. You have a law that bans single women from going skiing on their own. And they say what kind of freedom is that if people can't be gay, because they were born that way, or they can't go skiing as a single woman. What do you say to the critics?
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, President of Iran (through translator): Now you have managed to mix a number of things here. For a single lady to go on a trip to go skiing, is that forbidden in Iran? Who has told you that?
MORGAN: It's not forbidden?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm hearing it from you.
MORGAN: It is has been widely reported that you brought in a rule that said single women couldn't go skiing. Are you now telling me they can?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm hearing it from you, sir, for the very first time.
MORGAN: So to clarify, Mr. President, if a single woman from Iran is watching this interview, she can go skiing on her own?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Of course they see this program, because it's broadcast in Iran.
MORGAN: Right. So it is perfectly okay, you are happy for single women to go skiing.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Allow me, sir. Allow me. Allow me. Homosexuality is a completely different topic. This kind of support of homosexuality is only ingrained in the thoughts of hard-core capitalists and those who support the growth of capital only, rather than human values. According to all prophets and all religions and all faiths, homosexuality is strictly forbidden. It is a very ugly behavior.
How can you, in order to obtain four or five additional votes or to make a party more popular than the other, how can you give support to such behavior?
MORGAN: Do you believe – I heard you say --
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): But when I say freedom, allow me, sir. Allow me –
MORGAN: Do you believe that homosexual people are – are they born homosexual or do they become homosexual? What do you believe?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): They become – at the end of the day, they do become that way. I am not seeking the root causes of it, though. You see, the problems that are facing humanity today are much deeper than whether a single lady goes skiing or not. There are many reforms yet to take place, many reforms as of yet to be realized.
In the United States, 50 million people live in poverty. Is America a poor country? They're human beings too. Each one of them is a complete human being with many hopes and aspirations and dreams. Throughout the world 1.2 billion people live in utter poverty. Dictatorships do exist, oppressions exist. Denying human dignity exists, unfortunately. All of this must be reformed. Humans must feel like human beings. They must feel freedom.
MORGAN: You see, when I hear you say this, Mr. President, I like you speaking like this, this is great. But shouldn't freedom and individuality and all those things also extend to people who just happen to be gay, who were born gay? They weren't made gay. Wouldn't it be great for the president of Iran to say, you know something, everyone is entitled to be whatever sexuality they are born to be? That would be a great symbol of freedom.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?
MORGAN: Yes. I absolutely believe that. Yes, I do.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm sorry, let me ask you this, do you believe that anyone is given birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly and others do not accept your behavior, they're denying your freedom? Who says that? Who says that?
MORGAN: You are a father – Mr. President, you are –
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- perhaps in a country they wish to legitimize stealing.
MORGAN: You are a father of three children –
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): -- a few percentage of the --
MORGAN: You have two sons and a daughter. What would you do if one of them was gay?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): These things have different ways – the proper education must be given, proper -- the education system must be revamped. The political system must be revamped. And these must be also reforms that are revamped along the way. But if you – if a group recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition. This is an imposition of your will, sir.
MORGAN: How would you feel if one of your children dated a Jew?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I would have to see who that Jewish man or woman would be. I see love amongst people as completely acceptable. There are many Jews living in Iran with whom we are very close. There are some Muslims that marry into Jewish families or marry Christians.
MORGAN: So you wouldn't mind?
AHMADINEJAD: We have no such problems.
MORGAN: People would be surprised – people will be surprised you say that, Mr. President. They will like you for saying that.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Of course I think none of us should represent the whole population of the United States, but we believe that color, religion, native tongue, ethnic background shouldn't create differences or distances between people, nor should it be the sole reason to bring people closer together. It has always been like this
MORGAN: I ask every guest one question, and I am going to ask you, just because I'm amused by your response. How many times in your life, Mr. President, have you been properly in love?
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I'm in love with all of humanity.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): I love all human beings.
MORGAN: That might be the best answer I've ever heard to that question.