Lords try to stop gay teenager’s deportation

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Senior peers, including former Speaker of the Commons Betty Boothroyd and former Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf, have asked the government not to deport a gay teenager back to his home country of Iran.

More than 60 members of the House of Lords signed a letter to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith urging the government to “show compassion” to Mehdi Kazemi, who fears he will be executed for homosexual acts if he is returned.

The Home Office is under pressure after revealing that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.

Human rights groups claim that thousands of people have been executed for homosexual acts since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.

Mr Kazemi, 19, was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.

The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.

His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland.

The Dutch authorities ruled earlier this week he should be returned to the UK.

Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes told The Independent that the Home Office has assured him that the case would be reconsidered.

“As Mehdi’s British MP, and someone who has been supporting him and his family since December 2006, I am prepared for Mehdi’s return to the UK,” he told the paper.

“As soon as Mehdi is back in the UK, I will meet him and his family and make official representations through the proper channels, with the help of the best legal support.

“The Home Office has assured me that they will then reconsider Mehdi’s case.

“I remain very clear that the UK should not be deporting gay and lesbian people to Iran, where all the evidence shows they will be persecuted.

“My Liberal Democrat colleagues and I are hoping to persuade the Government to change its policy before anybody else in a similar position is returned to Iran.”

A petition has been started on the Downing St website calling for an end to deportation of gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans foreign nationals to countries that perpetrate human rights abuses towards LGBT people.

You can sign online here.

There is also a website set up to support Madhi’s case: https://www.madhikazemi.com/