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Saturday, 12 July 2008

LGBT asylum briefs

New facebook group supporting Prossy Kakooza

: Heard On the Street
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a lucky man. Even Amir supports him. Amir is a gay Iranian who left the country five years ago and now lives with his boyfriend in London. (He uses a pseudonym because he still hasn't told his family about his sexual orientation.) When Ahmadinejad claimed during a question-and-answer session at Columbia University last week that no gays lived in Iran, "[it] made me laugh," says Amir. "Ahmadinejad is an ignorant and uncultured man who doesn't know much about anything beyond the world of radical Muslims and Revolutionary Guards." Yet Amir was incensed at the hectoring introduction from Columbia's president, Lee Bollinger, during which he described his guest as "a petty and cruel dictator." "He is still the elected president of my country," Amir says. "Insulting him in front of the world is insulting all Iranians."

"Listen, as a gay man living in Iran, I couldn't express myself and be what I am. My brother went to jail for eight years because he opposed this regime. Two of my cousins were killed because they were communists. Despite all that, if one day America or Israel attack Iran, I'll go back and defend my country. I'll do that regardless of who is the president and how gay people are treated in Iran." That's the voice Washington should be listening to, not Ahmadinejad's.

Russian gay community will picket the Embassy of Iran to protest against executions of homosexuals
Activists of Russian gay movement intend July 19 to picket the Embassy of Iran in Moscow for the third time to protest against prosecution of sexual minorities in that country.

"We sent letters to the President of Russia and Iran ambassador to Russia, and we picketed the Embassy of Iran in Moscow. This year should not be an exception. We need to continuously remind the state authorities [of Iran] that the death penalty must be abolished," Nikolay Alexeyev, the picket and Moscow gay parade initiator, said.

Russian gay community organized similar pickets in 2006 and 2007, on the day of execution by Iran authorities of two teenagers charged with homosexual relations in 2005. Alexeyev said that members of Russian gay movement had from the start "made continuous protests against this medievalism.

Despite his attempts to start a new life in Scotland, the Home Office ordered the deportation gay Syrian JoJo Yakob in March and, last week, his appeal against the decision was denied.

The ruling by the Asylum Immigration Tribunal, sitting in Glasgow, states: "Syria criminalises and represses homosexuality. Homosexuals have to modify their behaviour and lifestyle accordingly. We find no evidence that in Syria (Yakob] would conduct himself other than discreetly to avoid repercussions."

The tribunal concluded that case law does not allow homosexuals from repressive countries to international legal protection.

Women fundraise to support returned Nigerian lesbian
“In Nigeria, as an openly gay woman, I suffer homophobic abuse and violence. I am homeless and at the mercies of strangers. If my ex-husband and his family find out I am in Nigeria my life would be in further danger.”

Grace Ogunsola was refused asylum and deported when the Home Office and courts refused to acknowledge the dangers faced by lesbian women in Nigeria. She is homeless and survives on handouts or by occasionally turning to prostitution. She was unable to raise money for a much needed operation and has now been diagnosed HIV+.

Previously in Nigeria, Ms Ogunsola survived rape and other violence including an attempt on her life by her husband. She was trafficked to Britain in March 2005, and forced into prostitution to pay the agent who helped her escape. She was detained for over a year in Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre where she started a relationship with a woman and came out publicly as a lesbian. In November 2006, she was deported despite widespread public support including from Black Women’s Rape Action Project, her MP, the Metropolitan Community Church and Wages Due Lesbians. Increasingly repressive legislation and media witch-hunts have resulted in many so-called “failed asylum seekers” like Ms Ogunsola being deported back to rape, other torture and even death.

“Now is the time for prominent lesbian and gay people, including politicians and those from high profile organisations to defend the civil, human and legal rights of those of us seeking asylum - being an immigrant and fleeing persecution is a ‘gay issue’. Those who don’t support asylum seekers are upholding a different standard of ‘equality’ depending on whether someone has the right passport, skin colour, accent . . . ”

Wages Due Lesbians is fund-raising to help Ms Ogunsola.
For more information:
Phone: 0207 482 2496

Omar Kuddas reports

Amnesty International has issued a strong criticism of the way in which the Netherlands handles individuals whose requests for asylum have been refused and who are awaiting deportation. The human rights organisation says that they are too often, and for far too long, unnecessarily locked up.

It believes that detention is being used more and more frequently to deter potential immigrants and asylum seekers. It also points out that foreigners placed in detention must follow the same regime as criminals, even though illegal residence is not, in the Netherlands, punishable in this way.

Finally, the organisation is calling for a better complaints handling procedure. It says that the number of complaints about mistreatment by guards is increasing, but that little or nothing is being done with them.

Bisexual woman to be deported from Canada to Nigeria
A victim of sexual violence and domestic abuse in her home country, Okojie says she fled Nigeria after being beaten by locals in her village and detained in prison after it was discovered she was bisexual.

"In Nigeria things are very bad for lesbians and gay people," says Okojie. "If you are a bisexual or lesbian or gay you can be stoned to death and you can be sentenced to prison for many many years. The government doesn't care."

Village Voice: Gay Arabs Party Here, Risk Death Back Home
Even in the Internet age, a savvier new breed of immigrants must deal with violence from the old country and family pressures.

Guardian: Talent going to waste
Having fled persecution, war and even torture back home, highly qualified refugees face huge obstacles finding work in the UK

Evo Morales Ayma, the president of the Republic of Bolivia: This European targeting of illegal immigrants is hypocritical, draconian and undiplomatic

An Interview with Arsham Parsi, Director of Iranian Queer Organization


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