In one of the first judgements of its kind, a gay asylum seeker wins the right to make an appeal to remain in Britain.
The 34 year old Palestinian man who can only be identified as ‘HC’ lived in a refugee camp near Sidon, in Lebanon, but fled to Britain in 1998 after the video shop he worked in was blown up.
The man claimed that he was told by a fellow camp resident that the shop was blown up because of HC’s homosexuality.
Outrage!, the gay-human rights group led by Peter Tatchell, has long campaigned on the issue and joined the marchers at London’s Gay Pride event in early July with placards including ‘Tony Blair deports gay asylum seekers. Shame!’ and ‘Labour deports gays to face jail, torture and death’.
During an asylum appeal in 2003, the adjudicator accepted some of the Palestinian man’s claims but dismissed his plea to remain in Britain and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal refused HC the right to appeal.
During the appeal court hearing, Dr Alan George a Middle East specialist gave written evidence showing that homosexuality is condemned by both Lebanese and Palestinian society and gay men in particular were subject to serious abuse and discrimination.
Indeed, the Palestinian Authority is understood to reserve the death penalty for homosexuality although in the past, the most serious punishments metered out involve long prison sentences. In Iran and Saudi Arabia, gay men are routinely stoned to death.
Lord Justice Keene, giving the ruling of the court, quashed the judgment of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal that denied the man the right to appeal his asylum decision.
The case will now be passed onto the newly formed Asylum and Immigration Tribunal for a rehearing.