MEPs ask Commission if gay asylum seekers should be returned to Iran

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Members of the European parliament have intervened in the case of a gay man from Iran who was reportedly refused asylum in Cyprus on the grounds of his sexual orientation.

The 13 MEPs also asked whether the European Commission considers Iran a safe country for gay asylum seekers to be returned to.

The Parliamentary Question has been submitted to the Commission as a Priority Written Question, which under the Rules of the European Parliament means that it requires an immediate answer.

The inquiry has been sent urgently because the asylum seeker in question is in imminent danger of being deported back to Iran.

The MEPs want to know if refusal of asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation is a breach of EU directives.

Labour’s Michael Cashman, Lib Dem Baroness Ludford, Tory John Bowis and Green MEPs Jean Lambert and Caroline Lucas were among UK MEPs who put their names to the question.

The treatment of lesbian and gay Iranians in the UK became a subject of controversy earlier this year when a campaign by The Independent newspaper, MPs, MEPs, gay rights groups and members of the House of Lords led Home Secretary Jacqui Smith to grant asylum to a young Iranian man.

Mehdi Kazemi, 20, left Iran in 2004 to travel to England on a student visa and continue his education.

Two years later while still in the UK he learned that Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend Parham, who had been forced to name Mr Kazemi as someone with whom he had had a relationship.

Mr Kazemi’s father then received a visit from the Tehran police, with an arrest warrant for his son.

In late April 2006, Medhi’s uncle told him Parham had been put to death.

Mr Kazemi’s request for asylum was turned down by the United Kingdom.

After fearing for his life he fled to Netherlands and sought asylum there. The Dutch authorities returned him to the UK.

He was finally granted asylum but there are other gay people facing deportation back to Iran.

Since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979, human rights groups claim that between 3,000 and 4,000 people have been executed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.

The British government has been accused of being more inclined to believe Iran than human rights groups on the issue of how gay people are treated in that country.

The UK Gay and Lesbian Immigration Group, which works with gay and lesbian asylum seekers, told in June that it was helping 35 people from Iran.