Comment: Stop deporting gay refugees back to Iran

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Omar Kuddus

Detention centres stand as monuments to Britain’s attitude to human rights, incarcerating behind razor wire asylum seekers awaiting deportation.

They are the last stop for those who have failed to make a successful asylum claim, a key tool in the British governments attempt to “manage migration” and hold an average 25,000 every year.

Much of the debate around immigration to the UK focuses on the legitimacy of asylum claims.

In order for campaigners aiming to prevent the deportation of specific individuals to stand any chance of victory, they have to focus on the individual’s legitimate claim to refugee status.

It is time to recognise that the global system of population control creates and maintains injustices and inequalities.

Sexual minorities in the UK have every right to exercise and celebrate their own hard won rights; however the time has still not come to take things for granted.

The stance of Britain on homosexuals seeking asylum on the grounds of their sexual orientation is worrying.

Arguably Britain should exercise caution when letting people into the country, but also should be reasonable.

One has to ask, would you want to send a gay Iranian back to Iran, only for him to face public execution just for just being gay?

Human sexuality is as much a fundamental right as the right to free speech or the right to freedom and no one, least of all a government elected by the people, has the right to interfere with that.

Most judges are dismissing homosexual’s claims to asylum and destroying their credibility, with all the evidence confirming that they are being used as a soft target (to bring down the asylum figures).

Peter Tatchell recently stated “it is designed to fail as many applicants as possible in order to meet government targets to cut asylum numbers.”

Homosexuals do not qualify a social group within the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

The Home Office systematically refuse asylum on the grounds that it does not recognise homophobic persecution as a legitimate and valid ground for asylum under the 1952 Refugee Convention.

The Home Office’s recent refusal of asylum for 35-year-old gay Iranian, Saeed Faraji, on the grounds that he could not prove that homosexuals are subjected to “torture, inhumane or degrading treatment” in Iran, despite his sworn statement, further establishes this.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently denied the existence of gay people in his country in address to an audience at Columbia University in New York.

“In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” he said.

“In Iran we do not have this phenomenon; I don’t know who has told you that we have it.”

According to Iranian human rights campaigners an estimated 4000 gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.

According to the gay rights group OutRage! “the Islamic Republic of Iran is qualitatively more homophobic than any other state on earth.

“Its government-promoted and religiously sanctioned torture and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people marks out Iran as a state acting in defiance of all agreed international human rights conventions.”

The Islamic Sharia law followed in Iran makes gay sex illegal with penalty of death, for offenders as young as 14 years old.

The BIA (Home Office Border and Immigration Agency) is choosing to send people back and just hope that things go well and that they are not executed.

Several failed asylum seekers have committed suicide, rather than face the barbaric persecution, torture and punishment awaiting them in Iran, having publicly admitted their sexuality to the Home Office.

The newly formed EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) is about building a fairer, more confident and united Britain, and provide practical guidance including to individuals.

Its chair, Trevor Philips, said: “We will continue to support meritorious and significant individual cases” and Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality organisation Stonewall and one of the 14 commissioners said:

“This is hugely important…because people will have a public body required to defend them for the very first time.”

The challenge is to make it work.

Now the gay community finally has a voice, we must ask for the end of deportation of gay asylum seekers, who do not have the luxury of being themselves as we do.

The Home Office’s refusal to accept failed asylum seekers can have a profound effect. I should know.

The person I fell in love with and want to form a civil partnership with happens to fall within this category.

Despite being British myself I have for the past three years lived a life of uncertainty, despair and fear that he will be deported and returned back to Iran, where he is certain to face the gallows, along with myself, as I have no intentions of being parted from him.

Executed just for being gay.

Mr Ahmadinejad in his speech used the phrase, hamjensbaaz (derogatory Farsi slang equivalent to sodomise or faggot) to present homosexual relationships in a negative way, instead of hanyensgara (a more respectful word).

By denying that homosexuals exist, Ahmadinejad ceased to officially recognise or accept their citizenship rights.

It was a clear assertion of the government’s position on homosexuals.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been doing brisk business entrapping, harassing, lashing, imprisoning and executing homosexuals from the moment it came to power, with little notice or complaint from the West apart from the occasional human rights report.

The government, who has until now claimed Iran to be a safe country for homosexuals and sent refugees back to Iran without considering the dangers they faced, must now accept that the government of Iran has never granted rights to homosexuals as citizens, so much so that even in its explanation of its discrimination, it denies their existence.

We are all aware of the long road ahead before we reach the desired conditions, rights and social and legal status for Iranian homosexuals.

But how many are to suffer violence, torture and death before we stop the deportation of fellow homosexuals.

I only pray my partner is not on that deportation list.