The treatment of LGBT asylum seekers by the government has been attacked in a motion passed at the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth.
In a short debate this afternoon party activists condemned the Home Secretary’s comments that gay and lesbian people who act in a “discreet” way will not be in danger in countries such as Iran.
“Conference calls on the government to halt the deportation of people to countries where their sexual orientation or gender identification may mean that they are threatened with the risk of imprisonment, torture, or even execution,” the motion read.
A halt on government-sanctioned deportations of at risk LGBT people is now official party policy.
Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said after the vote:
“It is totally unacceptable for Britain to be deporting people to countries where they will face persecution, torture or death merely because of their sexual orientation.
“This country has a proud tradition of providing sanctuary to those fleeing tyranny and oppression.
“It is about time that practice was extended to gay and lesbian people escaping deeply unpleasant homophobic regimes.”
Gay equality organisation Stonewall welcomed the show of support for gay asylum seekers.
Derek Munn, director of public affairs, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“Stonewall is pleased that the Liberal Democrats have put an issue of concern to lesbian and gay people centre stage on their conference agenda.
“In passing the motion they have reflected the widespread concern that lesbian and gay asylum seekers should be dealt with fairly and compassionately.”
The Lib Dems were discussing gay asylum seekers as a man from Uganda has been refused asylum in the UK.
John Bosco Nyombi claims that because he is gay his life will be in danger if he returns.
Earlier this year, gay rights groups were taken aback by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s assertion that gay men and lesbians who are “discreet” are not in danger in Iran.
The Iranian regime’s record of brutality towards sexual minorities is well-documented and the Islamic nation regularly uses torture and the death penalty.
The issue has not only been taken up by various LGBT equality rights groups such as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration group, but also attracted attention in the US.
In April, during the race Democratic nomination for President, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaign teams both condemned Gordon Brown and the UK government policy to deport LGBT people to countries where they face persecution, citing the controversial case of gay Iranian teenager Medhi Kazemi.
A review of the Mehdi Kazemi case announced by the Home Office means the deportation order against him is suspended.
The British government has been accused of being more inclined to believe Iran than human rights groups on the issue of how gay people are treated in that country.
In March Lord West of Spithead, Home Office minister in the Lords, said:
“We are not aware of any individual who has been executed in Iran in recent years solely on the grounds of homosexuality, and we do not consider that there is systematic persecution of gay men in Iran.”
In 2005 Iran sparked international outrage when it publicly executed two teenage boys.
Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were hanged because according to the regime they were rapists, however gay campaigners insist the boys were killed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.