■ Protestors in Whitehall on Saturday
demanding that Mehdi Kazemi
be granted refuge in the UK.
photo courtesy Outrage!, London
LONDON, March 25, 2008 – The
British Government is currently failing gay refugees, Peter Tatchell told a
rally in Whitehall, outside the Prime Minister’s official residence 10
Over 120 protesters braved hail and
rain on Saturday to demand that gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be
granted refuge in the UK.
They also urged asylum for the
Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other gay
Iranians who are at risk of deportation back to Tehran.
There were calls for a “fundamental
reform” of the way the Home Office treats LGBTI asylum applicants.
“The British government had ordered
Mr Kazemi to be deported back to Iran,” said protest speaker Peter Tatchell,
spokesperson for the LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.
“Following worldwide protests, the
Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, has agreed to review Mehdi’s case.
“While there is no guarantee that
this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful that he
will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this will result in
Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK,” he emphasised.
Saturday’s protest was sponsored by
Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT
campaign, with the support of OutRage!
The protest's three main demands
■ Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to
■ Iran’s homophobic laws violate
■ Give the victims of homophobic
persecution the right to settle in the UK
“There needs to be a fundamental
reform of the way the Home Office processes LGBTI asylum applications,” Mr.
Tatchell told the rally:
“The government is currently
failing LGBTI refugees:
“Asylum staff and adjudicators
receive race and gender awareness training but no training at all on sexual
orientation issues,” he pointed out.
“As a result, they often make
stereotyped assumptions: that a feminine woman can’t be a lesbian or that a
masculine man cannot be gay. They sometimes rule that someone who has been
married must be faking their homosexuality.
“The government refuses to
explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate
grounds for granting asylum.
“This signals to asylum staff and
judges that claims by LGBTI people are not as worthy as those based on
persecution because of a person's ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.
“The Home Office country reports on
homophobic and transphobic persecution are often partial, inaccurate and
misleading. They consistently downplay the severity of victimisation
suffered by LGBTI people in violently homophobic countries like Iran,
Nigeria, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Algeria and Jamaica.
“Cuts in the funding of legal aid
for asylum claims means that most asylum applicants – gay and straight – are
unable to prepare an adequate submission at their asylum hearing.
“Most solicitors don’t get paid
enough to procure the necessary witness statements, medical reports and
other vital corroborative evidence.
“The Home Office has failed to take
action to stamp out anti-gay abuse, threats and violence in UK asylum
“Some LGBTI detainees report
suffering homophobic or transphobic victimisation, and say they have failed
to receive adequate protection or support from detention centre staff,” said
Peter Tatchell of Outrage! (left) and Derek Lennard of
International Day Against Homophobia at the demonstration.
photo courtesy Outrage!, London
Believe Iranian Propaganda on Gays, Urges Gay Humanists.
The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has demanded that the Government
clarify its approach to the deportation of gay people to Iran after a
spokesman in the House of Lords claimed there was no evidence that gays were
being executed because of their sexuality. (UK Gay News, March 24,
of Gays to Iran Again Raised in Parliament as Lib Dems Apply Pressure.
The Government is coming under pressure from members of both houses of
Parliament, mainly Liberal Democrats, to “come clean” about policies on who
are deported to Iran – especially gay men and women.
(UK Gay News, March 19,
in Europe: Mehdi Says ‘Thank You’. Mehdi Kazemi, the 19-years-old
gay Iranian currently in a Netherlands detention centre awaiting removal to
the UK where, until yesterday he was concerned that he would be immediately
returned to Iran, has this morning thanked his many supporters throughout
the world. (UK Gay News, March 14, 2008)
Secretary to Review Case of Gay Iranian Teen As Euro Parliament Backs Mehdi.
The UK Government is to review the case of Mehdi Kazemi after the European
Parliament expressed its support for a motion tabled by Michael Cashman MEP.
(UK Gay News, March 14, 2008)
Iran: Lib Dems Attack Home Office While Peers Quiz Government.
The Home Office needs to understand that gay men and women face arrest and
execution in Iran, the Liberal Democrats for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transgender Equality group DELGA said last night. (UK Gay News, March
Teen Loses Appeal in Netherlands Court – To Be Returned to UK. Cashman
Takes Plight of Mehdi to the European Parliament. Mehdi Kazemi,
the 19-years-old gay Iranian has lost his fight to remain in the
Netherlands, a Dutch judge ruled this afternoon. His uncle, Saeed, was
told the news by the Dutch lawyer on the telephone.
(UK Gay News, March 11,
Gift from Netherlands for Gay Iranian – One Way Ticket to UK.
It was not the Christmas present that a young gay Iranian wanted. A court in the Netherlands has
ruled that Mehdi, the gay Iranian teenager, has to be returned to the United
Kingdom, where he faces deportation back to Iran. (UK Gay News,
December 24, 2008)
Gay Iranian Teen Awaits Decision of Dutch Court Over
Return to UK.
A young gay Iranian, who fled the
United Kingdom in fear after his asylum application with the Home Office’s
Border and Immigration Agency failed earlier this year, will be spending the
festive season hoping that a Dutch court will allow him to stay in the
Netherlands. (UK Gay News, December 21, 2007)
They Hang Gay Teenagers, Don’t They? A gay Iranian teenager whose asylum claim was denied in the UK fled to
the Netherlands, and then to Germany. The Germans returned him to the Dutch,
who are now threatening to return him to the Brits, who have already decided
to return the gay teenager to Iran. And you know what they do to gay
teenagers in Iran, right? (Seattle Stranger - USA, December 20)
Young Gay Iranian Soon on His Way Back to UK? Mehdi, the young gay Iranian who fled the United Kingdom
in April, could be back in the country within weeks, his uncle revealed last
(UK Gay News,
October 17, 2007)
Year Old Says ‘I Am an Iranian Gay’. The following email has been
received by the IRanian Queer Organisation in Toronto from a young gay man
who was studying at school in UK and, after difficulties with the UK Home
Office over asylum managed to flee England, ending up in the Netherlands.
The letter is published here as written.
(UK Gay News,
September 26, 2007)
Iranian Gays Abandoned. By Mehdi.
This article was written by a 19-years-old gay Iranian
who tells how, while he was a student in London, his
boyfriend back home was executed for being gay. Mehdi says he was
scared of returning home and meeting the same fate when his student visa
expired last year – and of his asylum application to the Home Office. (UK Gay News, April
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Licence.
Posted: 4 March 2008 at
01:30 (UK time)