Thursday, 4 February 2010

Finland orders gay Iranian out, told 'be discrete'

Coat of arms of FinlandImage via Wikipedia
Source: Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees - 3 February

By Ms. Ahmad and Sengupta, IRQR volunteers

Naser fled Iran because he feared for his life. As an Iranian queer, Naser was left no choice but to leave his family and whole life behind. In Iran, he was obligated to marry, but when he did, his ex-wife found out about his past relationship with another man. After finding out his sexual orientation, Naser was reported to the authorities and was tried for his sexual orientation. During the trial, there were a number of witnesses used against him, one of which was his former boy-friend. With the statements made by the witnesses, he was sure to be found guilty for his actions, which may have led him to death.

He fled Iran to Dubai, where he found a new life. He knew of the dangers that existed there however, he hoped to live as well as he could. After 8 years of establishing himself, he was reported to authorities in Dubai. Once again, he escaped for fear of his life. He traveled to Germany, where he held a visa, but continued on to Finland to seek refuge. He applied as a refugee to seek asylum in Finland however, he was denied on the basis that his claim was not sufficient enough. The Finnish government like many other European governments recommended Naser to return to Iran and keep his identity a secret.

In his plea with Finnish court officials, Naser states, “I cannot return to Iran because of the laws that exist against homosexuality. The strongest proof I have for my case is ME! I am homosexual and being homosexual is against the law in Iran and I will be persecuted by the government”.

Naser currently lives in fear of returning to Iran. He keeps his immediate family notified of his situation but cannot return because the government knows of his departure.

In the phone interview with Naser, he spoke of hope for a better future in Finland. He hopes to live with all the rights he deserves as a human being and hopes that the Finnish government will honour that. To the world today, Naser would like to say that “Iranian queer exist! They are real and I am proof of the struggles they face. Please do not turn your gaze away! Please do not deny us! We need the world’s support to change the circumstances we are in and will continue to struggle until freedom is in our grasp.”

On one hand, in Iran, Naser must hide his identity to live a safe life; and on the other hand, the European government requires him to prove his identity to live a safe life. Naser is in limbo and desperately needs help because of his risky situation. Naser is just one of many Iranian queer refugees who is in this situation. Like Ashgar, who is facing deportation in Norway and other Iranian queer asylum seekers in Europe, Naser must prove his sexual identity in Finland in order to grant asylum. Please show your support by contacting your members of parliament, government and politicians to revise these regulations.

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