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Ahmadinejad Says Comments About Gays Were Misunderstood

Are there gays in Iran?

Maybe. Maybe not.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, asked about the issue of homosexuality in his country during his controversial appearance at Columbia University two weeks ago, said there aren't.

Or maybe he said there are. It's hard to tell.

The Iranian leader, through a spokesman, sought Wednesday to clarify his remarks, which generated both anger and laughter during his visit to New York.

Two weeks ago, when asked if there were gay people in his country, Ahmadinejad said, through an interpreter:

"In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it."

On Wednesday, Ahmadinejad's media adviser, Mohammad Kalhor, told Reuters what the president really meant to say was that the United States had a larger gay population than Iran. He said Ahmadinejad was simply misunderstood by Western media.

"What Ahmadinejad said was not a political answer," Kalhor told Reuters. "He said that, compared to American society, we don't have many homosexuals."

So, as they say in New York ... Let's go to the videotape.

FOXNews.com has reviewed a video copy of the speech through a Farsi interpreter.

When asked about gays in the Islamic Republic, Ahmadinejad replied:

"In Iran, firstly, we do not have homosexuals like you have here [in this country]. In our country, such a thing does not exist."

Kalhor told Reuters that Ahmadinejad did not intend to imply that there are no homosexuals in Iran. Rather, he said, the president wanted to say that homosexuality is not as common as it is in the West because of cultural and religious differences.

Homosexuality is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic.

Human rights groups have posted pictures of homosexuals purportedly being hanged in Iran.

FOXNews.com's Adelle Nazarian contributed to this report.