More than 120 people gathered in London on Mar 22 to demand that a gay Iranian teen be granted refugee status in the UK.
Protestors also called for reforms to grant victims of homophobic persecution the right to settle in the country. There are an estimated 13 other gay Iranians at risk of deportation from the UK, according to gay rights group OutRage!
Mehdi Kazemi, 19, says he faces the death penalty if forced to return to his birth country. He requested asylum in the UK, but his claim was turned down. International attention pressured the British Home Secretary to grant Kazemi a temporary reprieve on Mar 13.
“While there is no guarantee that this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful that he will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this will result in Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK,” says Peter Tatchell, of gay rights group OutRage!
Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran. After Kazemi moved to the UK in 2005 to study, his boyfriend was arrested by Iranian state police and executed for sodomy.
“The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum,” says Tatchell. “This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by [queer] people are not as worthy as those based on persecution because of a person’s ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.”
Tatchell also says the government consistently downplays the danger to gays and lesbians in countries like Iran, Nigeria and Jamaica.