The Home Office bid to deport an Iranian gay asylum seeker will put him at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution.
London – 7 March 2008
Gay Iranian asylum applicant Mehdi Kazemi is in detention in the Netherlands. He is fighting attempts by the Dutch government to return him to the UK.
Mehdi fled Britain and sought asylum in the Netherlands because the British government wants to deport him back to Iran.
The gay human rights group OutRage! campaigns on asylum issues and supports Mehdi Kazemi’s claim for refugee status.
OutRage! spokesperson Peter Tatchell said:
“The Home Office decision to deport Mehdi back to Iran is shameful and reckless.
“If returned to Tehran, he will be at risk of imprisonment, torture and execution.
“Gay men in Iran are hanged from public cranes using the barbaric method of slow strangulation, which is deliberately designed to cause maximum suffering.
“This deportation order borders on a criminal decision. It violates the government’s legal obligations under the Refugee Convention.
“The Home Office country report on Iran ignores the true scale of homophobic repression, in order to justify the deportation of lesbian and gay Iranians.
“I have been tipped off by a senior Home Office official that government orders are to cut asylum numbers at almost any price.
“Staff are encouraged to assume that all asylum applicants are bogus and to play down the merits of individual cases, such as Medhi’s,” said Mr Tatchell.
Two gay Iranians commit suicide
The UK’s harsh, homophobic asylum policy has provoked two suicides by gay Iranians in the last five years.
In September 2003, Israfil Shiri died after pouring petrol over himself and setting himself on fire in the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester, after his asylum claim was refused.
In April 2005, 26-year-old Hussein Nasseri shot himself in the head two weeks after his asylum claim was turned down by the Home Office.
Home Office failings on LGBT asylum claims
“The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, must urgently remedy her department’s five failings with regard to the treatment of LGBT asylum claimants,” added Mr Tatchell.
“Currently, the Home Office stands accused of:
– No training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators
– No explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation
– No action to stamp out the abuse of LGBT refugees in UK asylum detention camps
– No accurate, up-to-date information on the victimisation of LGBT people in violently homophobic countries
– No access to adequate legal representation for LGBT asylum applicants
“These are systemic failings by a callous and indifferent government that is more interested in cutting asylum numbers than in ensuring a fair, just and compassionate asylum system,” concluded Mr Tatchell.