Iranian actor Bahram Radan apologises for tweeting in support of same-sex marriage after criticism from hardline newspaper

Radan joined millions across the world celebrating the landmark ruling but received a barrage of abuse

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An Iranian actor has apologised in an open letter for tweeting in support of legalising same-sex marriage in the US after reportedly coming under pressure to retract his statement from state media.

Bahram Radan joined millions across the world celebrating the landmark ruling by tweeting: “The US supreme court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is legal was historic, perhaps on the scale of the end of slavery ... from Lincoln to Obama.”

Radan is a popular actor and considered by many to be the Iranian Brad Pitt. He has appeared in 27 films, making him something of a household name in the Middle East.

The 36-year-old’s tweet was immediately met with a barrage of homophobic abuse from social media users in Iran, according to The Guardian.

Men found to be engaging in anal sex can be flogged 100 times and even put to death under Iran’s harsh penal code.

Within hours, Radan deleted the tweet, but the Iranian newspaper Keyhan reportedly called for him to be put on to a blacklist and summoned him to the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance for questioning.

On Thursday, the newspaper, whose director is appointed by the Iranian supreme leader, printed an open letter of apology from the star.

Radan posted an image from one of his films showing him stood with his arms up in surrender as a man held up a a gun to his head. The picture has been interpreted by some as related to the letter, although this has not been stated by the actor himself.

“What was published on the internet as my opinion about the US supreme court’s ruling on gay marriage was a mistake and does not reflect the dignity of the Iranian people, for which I apologise,” Radan wrote in his letter.

“We’re living in a country which celebrates marriage as a tradition of the prophet [Mohamed]. American laws have no bearing on the Islamic republic and gay marriage is reprehensible under our social and religious laws and according to our social values.”

Many on social media posted messages praising the actor for sharing the original tweet even after he deleted it.

Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, who runs the My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page, said the Instagram picture symbolised the on-going struggle faced by citizens in Iran.

She told The Independent: “That picture tells the whole story of Iranian young people; artists, journalists and activists can never express themselves because there is a gun behind us. The point is that he never had the chance to express himself inside Iran.”

Ms Alinejad left Iran in 2009, but said she was forced to write an apology for an article she had written in 2007. “They humiliate you,” she said. “They went to my editor and said they would close the newspaper that I worked at. When you have had that experience and you see the apology it reminds you that we are effectively held hostage in Iran."