Dutch MP questions deportation of gay teenager to UK
A social-liberal MP in Holland has secured a debate in the country’s parliament about Mehdi Kazemi, a gay Iranian teenager who is due for deportation back to the UK.
Boris van der Ham of the D66 party is unhappy at the lack of assurances from the British government that Mr Kazemi will be allowed to remain in the UK.
If he is returned to Iran he claims he faces execution.
The parliamentary debate is expected to take place on Friday.
Mr Kazemi, 19, has reportedly told his lawyers he wants to remain in Holland, but could be returned to the UK as early as Monday.
More than 60 members of the House of Lords wrote to Home Secretary last month urging the government to “show compassion” to Mehdi Kazemi, who fears he will be executed for homosexual acts if he is returned.
The Independent newspaper mounted a campaign on his behalf and members of the European Parliament called on the UK not to deport him.
A review of his case announced by the Home Office means the deportation order against him is suspended.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
“Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands.”
Gay equality organisation Stonewall welcomed the decision to review his case.
“We are delighted that the Home Secretary has listened so closely to the argument put to her,” chief executive Ben Summerskill told PinkNews.co.uk.
“We are also particularly grateful to those members of the House of Lords who raised the case as well.”
Mr Kazemi, 19, was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.
The boyfriend named Mehdi as a homosexual, and police turned up at his father’s house with a warrant to arrest him.
His asylum application was unsuccessful in the UK, so Mehdi fled to Holland.
However, he could still be deported if the Home Office decide he is not in danger in Iran.
Gay activists have warned that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.
Omar Kuddus, a gay rights activist who campaigned for Kazemi’s case, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“The British government has for once done the right thing and given this young man a chance and hope for his future.
“There is no question of the fate awaiting him if he is deported back to Iran – execution, just for being gay.
“Homosexuality is not accepted and the state kills and punishes those guilty of being gay.
“To say that homosexuals are safe as long as they are discreet and live their lives in private, is to say that Anne Frank was safe from the Nazis in World War Two as long as she hid in her attic, there is no difference.
“Homosexuality shall never be acceptable in Iran as long as the Ayatollahs and Sharia law is in place.
“I am grateful that Mehdi can now make his case and establish the true dangers awaiting him in Iran.”
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The Home Office said last week that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and member of gay rights group OutRage! believes that there are dozens of other gay asylum seekers whose cases the government are refusing to review.
Mr Tatchell said:
“The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.
“The underlying problem is the government’s whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process.”
For more information on Mehdi Kazemi’s case click here.