Greek gay community protest Iran deportation

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A gay rights group in Greece has asked for help to stop the deportation of a 40-year-old Iranian man.

GHC-EOK say that the man, known as Alex, was arrested, beaten and tortured in his home country because he is gay.

Two separate applications to remain in Greece have been rejected and his case is due to be discussed before the country’s Supreme Council.

A spokesman for GHC-EOK said:

“Alex’s deportation to Iran will constitute a violation of the articles 3 and 15 of the International Convention of the Human Rights, co-signed and validated by Greece.

“We need your strong support in order to prevent the Greek state from violating the international law and the human rights of a person whose life is in danger because of his sexuality.”

The organisation says that Greece will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross violation of human rights if they return Alex to Iran.

Gay and lesbian people in the Islamic Republic of Iran face the death penalty.

GHC-EOK say that Alex is a member of a rich Iranian family who was visited in 1999 at his workplace by an ex-schoolmate who knew Alex was gay and who was probably a member of the government party.

After that visit, Alex was arrested by the religious police and kept in the Jankal jail at the Iranian town of Rast for 45 days.

Alex was tortured at Jankal.

He was beaten systematically with lashing straps in his back and kidneys.

Beaten several times in the face, he lost three teeth as a result.

He had his testicles twisted, was submitted to bastinado (beating the soles of the feet) and had salt poured on his open wounds. He was put twice in mock execution.

After spending forty-five days in jail, his family paid to get him out so that he could attend the funeral of his mother.

The police took him to the funeral in women’s clothes. While out of jail, Alex managed to escape. A few days later, he arrived to Greece by way of Turkey in a terrible condition.

He went to the General Administration office of the police and applied for political asylum based on the torture he had been submitted to in Iran.

The application was rejected.

In 2003, Alex submitted a second application for political asylum stating that he was homosexual and had a relationship with a Greek man, Phoebos (not his real name), who also testified that he was Alex’s partner.

Alex and Phoebos are still together. However, this application was also rejected.

Now Alex’s case is to be discussed in front of the Supreme Council, which is scheduled to decide for a definitive resolution regarding his status as a refugee on March 11, 2008.

GHC-EOK hope that international pressure will force the Greek government to reassess his case.

The status of Iranian people claiming asylum on the grounds of their sexuality has caused controversy in several European countries, including the UK.

Last month an Iranian lesbian due to be deported from the UK was told her case will be heard by The Court of Appeal after a campaign by human rights activists.

Pegah Emambakhsh has been released on bail by British officials. She was scheduled for repatriation in August.

Her sexual orientation and her past life in Iran may lead to her being executed.

Even if she is not sentenced to death, she is likely to be prosecuted and tortured by Iran’s religious officials.

Punishment for sexual intercourse among lesbians in Iran is 100 lashes and in the case of recidivists, execution.

The Italian government had intervened in Ms Emambakhsh’s case by offering her asylum if the UK deported her.

Last month the President of Iran,Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, claimed in reply to a question posed about homosexuality during a speech at New York’s Columbia University:

“In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.

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

Presidential media adviser Mohammad Kalhor later claimed:

“What Ahmadinejad said was not a political answer. He said that, compared to American society, we don’t have many homosexuals.”

In August a newspaper, Shargh, was shut down for printing an interview with a lesbian poet, Saghi Ghahreman.

In July 2005, two gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were executed sparking protests around the world.

Since then, has reported on public executions and lynchings of gay people across the country.