Gay asylum group attacks “shameful” Iran comments

Tony Grew June 23, 2008
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A group that campaigns on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans asylum seekers has rounded on the Home Secretary after she said that “discreet” gay asylum seekers should be returned to Iran.

Jacqui Smith laid out her position in a letter to Lib Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno.

She said: “With particular regard to Iran, current case law handed down by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal concludes that the evidence does not show a real risk of discovery of, or adverse action against gay and lesbian people who are discreet about their sexual orientation.”

gayasylumuk today called her comments outrageous, shameful, inhumane and anti-gay and called for protesters to target the Prime Minister and the Labour party.

“We hope that gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular will consider changing their vote if the policy isn’t changed before the next election,” said Paul Canning of gayasylumuk.

“This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren’t doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala.”

gayasylumuk claimed that there are only around 30 LGBT asylum seekers in the UK.

“There is a Home Office policy that gays and lesbians can be returned if they are ‘discreet,'” said Mr Canning.

“Further, there is a history of the Home Office accepting bland assurances from the Iranian and other governments.

“The Dutch experience shows that a proven, tested model exists of how to operate a humane asylum policy for gays and lesbians – and they haven’t had a ‘flood.’

“Similar policy and practice exists in the United States, Canada and Sweden.

“Why is the UK alone in being inhumane and disregarding international law?”

gayasylumuk also rejected previous statements made by Home Office Minister, Lord West, who claimed the government is cautious and gives due consideration to cases.

“They have shown no evidence of caution,” said Mr Canning.

“For a number of years they have consistently refused asylum to gays and lesbians and transgender people who would suffer persecution if returned, because that is their policy.

“Some of these people have committed suicide rather than be returned.”

gayasylumuk has asked people to sign a petition on the Downing St website in protest at the deportations of gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality.

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