The Canadian based Iranian LGBT exile organisation Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR) has put out a call to action for an Iranian transsexual, Mahtab, and her husband, Saleh.
The couple fled to Turkey in 2007 and IRQR say the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Ankara has rejected their claim for refugee status.
"They do not have any protection in Turkey and now, due to local circumstances they have to go back to their country since UNHCR did not recognize them as refugees," said IRQR. "They risk being deported back if they do not leave Turkey voluntarily."
Although Iran officially recognises transsexuals, including paying for half the cost of gender reassignment:
"Many transgender surgeries are actually performed on gay men who report being coerced. They and actual Iranian transgendered people report being persecuted, tortured and coerced to undergo sex reassignment procedure."Says IRQR:
"Mahtab was abandoned by her family and her brothers and was afraid that they were going to kill her because she was an embarrassment to her family. Saleh and Mahtab lived together several months in Iran and since they had an underground relationship, nobody was able to find out."In February a Human Rights Watch led coalition of human rights and gay groups accused Turkey of inaction on "an ongoing pattern of violence" against transsexual people. Since November 2008, at least eight transgender people have been murdered in Istanbul and Ankara.
"Unfortunately, Sahel's family was informed about it and they were threatened. Mahtab and Saleh had no choice but to escape, they lived temporarily at Saleh’s friends’ place. Afterwards, Mahtab and Saleh had to leave Iran to Turkey and had to seek asylum from the UNHCR office in Ankara."
"They officially got married in Turkey in August 2008 because they loved each other and they could not do it in Iran easily because of the stigma around transsexual marriages, thus, living in Turkey helped them achieve this dream. They have been living together for the last three years since they arrived in Turkey. It is their right to love each other and live together but unfortunately, the UNHCR’s decision created more problems and made their lives more difficult."
"Most people in their current city of asylum found out about Mahtab’s previous life as a transsexual and they always point them out in the streets when they are in public. They are in a very bad situation in Turkey and we request all of your support ... They can not go back to Iran because they will be arrested or killed by their families or the authorities."