Gay Iranian faces uncertain future back in UK
Mehdi Kazemi, a teenage Iranian who is fighting deportation to his homeland where he claims he faces execution for being gay, has returned to the UK.
He was previously in a detention centre in Holland but was released on Friday from a Rotterdam detention centre and returned to England. He is staying with his uncle.
Mr Kazemi, 19, had unsuccessfully applied for asylum in the United Kingdom following the execution of his partner by Iranian authorities after being found guilty of sodomy.
Mehdi left Iran in 2004 to travel to England on a student visa.
Two years later while still in the UK he learned that Iranian authorities had arrested his boyfriend Parham back in Iran, and he had been forced to name Mehdi as someone with whom he had had a relationship.
Mehdi’s father then received a visit from the Tehran police, with an arrest warrant for his son.
In late April 2006, Mehdi’s uncle told him Parham had been put to death.
Mehdi may be repatriated to Iran because according to the British government, he does not run any risk there.
He fled in secret from England, intending to take refuge in Canada, but was blocked by the German border police.
After hearing his story, he was sent to Holland, a country known for granting refugee status to Iranian homosexuals, and again handed over to the police.
However, the United Kingdom sent a formal request to Holland asking for Mehdi’s return to Britain, in order to proceed with his deportation to Iran.
That order led to his return to the UK on Friday.
More than 60 members of the House of Lords wrote to Home Secretary last month urging the government to “show compassion” to Mr Kazemi.
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:
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“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.”
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.