Sunday, 26 March 2006

MEP Urges ‘EU Returns Directive’ Debate to Help Gay Iranian Asylum Seekers

No more: Blasphemy Laws!Image by helen.2006 via Flickr
Source: UK Gay News

An MEP has described as “simply unacceptable” the problem often faced by asylum seekers in UK, and other EU countries, in getting the truth of their cases heard.

Green Party Euro MP Jean Lambert (London) spoke out after reading the story of ‘Ramin’ on UK Gay News website.

“Ramin’s terrifying case highlights many of the problems and questions surrounding the whole asylum system in the UK,” she said.

“All too often I hear reports of asylum seekers, from a variety of countries and backgrounds, facing an uphill struggle to get the truth of their case heard through legal representation that is simply unacceptable.

“We know of a number of other countries, not just Iran, where a homophobic culture is supported and promoted and continues to threaten the lives of LGBT citizens.

“The UK Government should be understanding of this and give asylum seekers the chance to live a full life, without fear, until situations in their homeland positively improve.

“The Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee in the European Parliament are currently discussing the proposed Returns Directive, which should safeguard our Human Rights and ensure everyone has a chance to live in safety,” she pointed out.

“There are however problems with the directive and I would urge everyone interested in the subject to get involved in the debate.

Jen Lambert, a member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on gay and lesbian rights, also spoke out against the position in the Netherlands where Dutch Immigration Minister, Rita Verdonk, is considering lifting the ban on deporting gays back to Iran.

The ban in the Netherlands was put in place six months ago following reports of the execution of Iranians involved in homosexual conduct.  But Ms. Verdonk say that the government in Tehran has given assurances that there are no executions in Iran for being gay.

“It is extremely worrying that some EU countries are willing to ignore the advice of the Human Rights Watch and signs of danger in Iran,” she said.

“There is absolutely no excuse for a modern Europe to make allowances for those countries tolerating homophobic behavior and punishment and we must to take a stand against this no.” she insisted.

“The Netherlands has agreed, under the European Convention of Human Rights, not to deport any person whose life is deemed to be in danger.  With Iran’s criminal code stating that homosexual activities are punishable by torture, lashings and death as well as continuing reports of ill treatment whilst in police custody, the Dutch Government should not even be thinking of lifting such a ban.

“If we are serious about justice then we need to ensure Europe does not see homophobic acts as acceptable and continues to protect those with their lives in danger.

“It is also of concern that the Dutch Government will be returning those of Christian faith, who also believe they will be in danger.  I would urge the Government to change its position,” she concluded.
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