Current Affairs

Gay Iranian will be returned to UK as soon as today

Tony Grew April 4, 2008
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The Dutch Minister of Justice has told the country’s parliament that she completely trusts the UK asylum system.

Nebahat Albayrak, speaking in a debate about the plight of gay Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi, said she would not be asking the British counterparts for any assurances about his case.

Boris van der Ham of the D66 party secured the debate with support from the Green party, the social democrats and other opposition parties.

He is unhappy at the lack of assurances from the Home Office that Mr Kazemi will be allowed to remain in the UK. Holland has a policy of not deporting gay people back to Iran.

Mr Kazemi, 19, has reportedly told his lawyers he wants to remain in Holland, but could be returned to the UK as early as today.

He 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.

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.”

Dutch gay rights group COC has said that if the UK decides to move to deport Mr Kazemi they will begin proceedings at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

At last night’s Stonewall Equality dinner, keynote speaker Sir Ian McKellen said he had wanted to bring Mr Kazemi to the event as his guest, but could not as he remains in custody in Holland.

The Home Office said last month 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.

Click here for a report on the debate on Mehdi’s case in the Dutch parliament.

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