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Swedes changes rules for gay Iranian asylum seekers

PinkNews Staff Writer July 1, 2008

In a decision hailed as “remarkable” the Swedish Migration Board has decided that people who lived openly as gay or lesbian in Iran should be granted asylum.

Previously more evidence of persecution would have been required.

While there will still be individual assessments of each case, the board’s new “guiding decision” will take into account the risk that the person might be persecuted because of their sexual orientation.

Stig-Ake Petersson, a gay asylum activist working for The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), said he has had a number of meetings with the Swedish Migration Board regarding gay Iranians seeking asylum.

Henrik Winman, a lawyer with the Migration Board, told Dagens Nyheter:

“The situation of homosexuals and bisexuals, transgender people in Iran is difficult and RFSL has commented on our past practice.”

The Swedish decision follows the case of a 25-year-old Iranian who fled to the Scandinavian country. He said he had lived openly with his boyfriend in Iran and had been arrested several times.

The migration board gave him leave to remain in Sweden as a refugee as they considered he would run the risk of persecution because of his sexual orientation.

The ruling seems to be at odds with the “country information” from the Swedish Foreign Affairs ministry.

Three weeks ago the country’s embassy in Tehran said that there are “no executions in Iran as a result of their sexual orientation.”

RFSL has also reportedly successfully submitted a case involving a gay Iranian man to UN’s Committee against Torture, the first time such a case has been accepted.

In the UK, the Home Secretary has moved to clarify a statement she made in a letter to a Lib Dem peer stating that gay people who live “discreetly” in Iran face no danger.

Jacqui Smith said that individual cases would be considered but “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.”

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