Two gay men from Iraq persecuted because of their sexuality have been granted asylum in the UK following an appeal.
Fleeing from militia death squads, which have been targeting the LGBT community in their home country, Ibaa, 30, and Haider, 29, were initially refused asylum by the Home Office on the grounds that fear of persecution because of sexual orientation was not recognised by the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The two men received help from gay rights organisation OutRage! and the exiled LGBT Iraq group, who collaborated with the men's solicitors Barry O'Leary and Sara Changkee to get the decision overturned.
Haidar, who is a qualified medical doctor, said:
"To show my gratitude to this country for giving me protection, which I did not get in my own country, I will be a good citizen and make a positive contribution to society by serving my patients well and helping in the local community."
OutRage! has been working with the exiled LGBT Iraq group to address the persecution that many homosexuals in Iraq face since the country was thrown into a state of civil war.
Peter Tatchell, a founder member of OutRage!, was delighted by the victory.
"Ibaa's and Haider's successful appeals show that gay people who have suffered persecution can win asylum, despite all the obstacles placed in their way by the Home Office.
"We worked with Ali Hili of the IRAQI LGBT group and with the men's solicitors, Barry O'Leary and Sara Changkee.
"Our joint efforts secured this positive outcome. I hope it will encourage more gay and lesbian Iraqis to challenge Home Office refusals and win their appeals.
"It is very depressing to think that without a huge support network and lots of hard work to get corroborating evidence from Iraq, both these men would have probably lost their appeals and been deported.
"The whole asylum system is rigged and biased against genuine refugees – especially gay ones. It is designed to fail as many applicants as possible, in order to meet the government target to cut asylum numbers," said Mr Tatchell.