An MP has said that a recent report on the plight of gays in Iraq means a gay Iraqi man living in her north London constituency must not be deported.
Last week, Human Rights Watch reported that gays in the country are facing rising levels of homophobic violence from militia groups and the government is not doing enough to stop attacks.
Liberal Democrat MP for Brent Sarah Teather, who has championed the case of her constituent, has said the news means it is more likely he will be killed if he is deported.
The man, who has not been named to protect his safety, was due to be deported in February after it was ruled he would be safe in Iraq. His lawyers won a judicial review and the case is currently being considered by Home Office ministers. He originally applied for asylum in 2001.
He was told by the UK Border Agency that he should conduct his relationships discreetly. A document read: “Even if your client’s homosexuality were to be established it is viewed that it would be possible for your client to conduct such relationships in private on his return to Iraq. This would allow your client to express his sexuality, albeit in a more limited way than he could do elsewhere.”
His sexual orientation has come under question by officials and it is understood he did not immediately state he was gay upon entering the UK. He is currently living with his partner in Brent.
According to Teather, the man is extremely likely to be executed if sent back to Iraq.
The Human Rights Watch report suggested that hundreds of gay men in the country have been attacked and killed since 2004 and claims that members of the Mehdi Army militia group are leading the anti-gay campaign. It also said it had evidence that Iraqi security forces are colluding in the killings.
Teather said: “In light of this deeply distressing report, immigration ministers must show some basic humanity and reverse the decision to deport my constituent. If this deportation goes ahead there is a terrible risk that this man will be killed. How can we possibly claim to be a country that values human rights if we are willing to endanger a life in this way?
“Human Rights Watch has shown that the situation for gay men in Iraq is horrific. Persecution, barbaric violence and killing is a daily fact of life for gay Iraqis. This is exactly the life of fear that the UK government is proposing for my constituent.
“I have done all I can to persuade ministers that they should protect my constituent, and will continue to fight on his behalf. The UK government must send a clear and unambiguous signal that they oppose the death penalty, by refusing to send this man to face execution.”
Teather’s call was echoed by Ali Hili of the London-based Iraqi LGBT group, who said: “‘We plead to the British government and the Home Office to reconsider the decision of deporting Iraqis back to Iraq.
“All evidence and reports coming from Human Rights Watch and many other groups, including Iraqi LGBT, show the deterioration of the situation of all LGBT people in Iraq.”
Homosexual acts between consenting adults are not illegal in Iraq but are taboo and a number of religious leaders have condemned homosexuality.