Concern for gay Iranian refused asylum in Cyprus

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The Commissioner of Administration in Cyprus has warned that a gay Iranian man faces death in his homeland if he is deported.

Eliana Nicolaou accused the government of putting the man’s life at risk after he was twice rejected for asylum status.

In Iran the penalties for homosexual acts are flogging, stoning or hanging.

The man, currently in prison for cannabis use, is in a four year relationship with a Cypriot man, who said in a letter to Nicolaou that he would take extreme action if his boyfriend was deported.

“Homosexuality is completely forbidden in Iran, ” a source within the Iranian Embassy in Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail.

The Iranian man did not mention he was gay when he first applied for asylum as he was scared to say it in front of a third person, believed to be an Iranian interpreter, at the interview. He was still rejected after he revealed his sexuality in a second application.

Ombudswoman Nicolaou said the Asylum Service failed to explain clearly and in a convincing manner why it had rejected his asylum application.

She pointed out that no reference had been made to the risk of persecution on account of his homosexuality if he was returned to Iran.

“Where homosexuality is illegal in a particular society, the imposition of severe criminal penalties for homosexual conduct could amount to persecution,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Emilia Strovolidou told the Cyprus Mail.

“From the moment there is such a strict law, you can’t predict how it will be applied and whether it will be applied.

“However, the likelihood is always there, and the severe penalties exist, regardless of specific cases.”

There have been several stories this year regarding the deportation of homosexual Iranians.

Mehdi Kazemi was allowed back to the UK after claiming he faces execution for his sexuality.