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Friday, 14 March 2008

News update

The Independent, who have spearheaded the UK press coverage, headline today: Victory for Kazemi as Home Secretary halts deportation to Iran

The Government's surprise intervention yesterday follows an international outcry.
Emma Ginn, of the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns:
This is, finally, a good decision. There are many flaws in the UK's so-called 'fair and efficient' asylum determination process that others, not so fortunate to attract such global news coverage, are subjected to. The whole thing seems like not much more than a lottery.
The MP who has been leading for Madhi, Simon Hughes, said that arrangements are already in place for an urgent meeting with him, his family, specialist lawyers and Hughes to prepare a new application to the Home Office.

An MEP who helped get yesterday's European parliament resolution passed, Sarah Ludford, said:

It should have come voluntarily and without the need for so much pressure. But we must not forget other gay Iranians fearing for not only their liberty but their lives, such as Pegah Emambakhsh. They deserve justice, too.
Read about Pegah's case, she is planning to apply for a judicial review at the High Court. Pegah is one of at least another 29 other lesbian or gay refugees at risk of deportation from the UK to persecution.

PinkNews points out that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.

Quoting Peter Tatchell:
The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.

The underlying problem is the government's whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process. Asylum staff and adjudicators are given no training on sexual orientation and there is no explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.
The news about Madhi is reported in at least 300 media outlets around the world:
In a written statement earlier this month, Britain's Home Office said that even though homosexuality was illegal in Iran and homosexuals did experience discrimination, it did not believe that homosexuals were routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality
The Times quotes Madhi's Dutch lawyer:
He is very much afraid of being allowed to stay in Britain but without being granted official permission. That would then put him in a no man’s land. He would be very unhappy in the long term.
And Madhi's uncle:
It has been a long time coming and a very long struggle. What I do not understand is why the Government got itself into this mess in the first place. It should always have recognised that gay people are killed for being themselves in Iran.
The Times also said that Madhi's case will be re-examined by Home Office officials who will base their decision on guidance issued last year — after his 2006 application was turned down.
It states: “Where an individual claimant demonstrates that their homosexual acts have brought them to the attention of the authorities to the extent that on return to Iran they will face a real risk of punishment, which will be so harsh as to amount to persecution, s/he should be granted refugee status as a member of a particular social group."

“In addition gay rights activists that have come to the attention of the authorities face a real risk of persecution and should be granted asylum as a result of their political opinion”.
And carries a scathing editorial, which notes:
As with other repressive regimes, Iran's criminalisation of homosexuality is often a convenient way of punishing political opponents.

The Government is not only right to provide refuge to Mr Kazemi, but is to be applauded for sending an unequivocal message to Tehran.

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