The UK Lesbian Gay Immigration Group has written to Liam Byrne, the Home Office Minister responsible for immigration, requesting the suspension of removals to Iran of lesbian and gay asylum seekers.

The Group has urged the Minister to ensure that no Iranian lesbian or gay asylum seeker be removed from the UK whilst there are genuine concerns that those suspected of having gay sexual relationships are at risk of persecution.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the hanging of two gay teenagers in Iran who were believed to be lovers. The Group fears that these executions demonstrate a hardening of attitudes by the Iranian regime justifying a suspension of removals to Iran.

UKLGIG has also asked the Minister to carry out a review of the Country Information Report on Iran which Home Office caseworkers use to make decisions on asylum claims.

The Group believes it contains out of date statements to the effect that there is no reason to fear persecution in Iran so long as same-sex relationships are carried out behind closed doors.

UKLGIG chairperson, Ian Morton, said “There is a real fear amongst lesbian and gay asylum seekers from Iran that if they are forced to return to Iran they will risk their lives if they express their sexual orientation.”

A Home Office Spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “We have not yet received the letter. We will comment on it when we do.

“Under the terms of the 1951 UN Convention a refugee is a person who can demonstrate a well-founded fear of persecution in his country of origin for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

“We accept that homosexuals, in certain circumstances, are capable of constituting a particular social group under the terms of the Convention.

“Asylum is granted when the individual demonstrates he/she has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her membership of that particular social group.

“If an applicant’s claim does not meet the criteria set out in the Refugee Convention, consideration will be given as to whether there are other humanitarian or discretionary reasons why they should be allowed to remain in the UK. This reflects our commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).”

UKLGIG is holding it’s an asylum seekers support meeting tonight at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square.