Current Affairs

Iranian lesbian actress may face death if deported

Jessica Geen May 20, 2010
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An Iranian actress is fighting to win asylum in the UK because she fears she will be killed if sent home.

Kiana Firouz, 27, began making a film in Tehran several years ago to give voice to lesbians in the country.

Two years ago, she came to the UK as a student but Iranian authorities discovered her work and secret police began following her.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and the death penalty is imposed on repeat offenders.

Ms Firouz applied for asylum in the UK but was rejected and told she could avoid persecution if she was “discreet” about her sexual orientation.

However, she appears in a film based on her life called Cul de Sac, the premiere of which is tonight, and fears she is now well-known enough to be in imminent danger.

She plays herself in the work, which explores attitudes to homosexuality in Iran. The lesbian sex scenes in the film are, she believes, enough to result in her execution.

Ms Firouz is said to be “overwhelmed” by the attention on her case and is refusing to speak to the media.

But in a statement sent out last month, she said she would soon face deportation.

She said: “Homosexuality in Iran is a sin and offence which is subject to harsh punishment. According to the Islamic law, repetition of this offence will be punished by death. The punishment for lesbianism involving persons who are mature, of sound mind, and consenting, is 100 lashes.

“If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion.”

Gay asylum campaigner Paul Canning said her case was “severely embarrassing” for the Iranian authorities and that she still has family in the country who will be in danger.

He told “She will be put in prison, she will be raped in prison. It is extremely well-documented that this happens to women.

“She’s really embarrassing the Iranian regime. In the last year, there have been 50 to 100 executions – that we know of – of opponents to the regime.”

Her lawyer, who asked not to be named, told that Ms Firouz was now well-known to Iranian authorities, placing her in danger.

She said: “The Home Office believes she is gay but said she could be discreet. This is a ridiculous argument.

“The judge said the same at the appeal, that no one knows who she is.

“We have asked the Home Office to reconsider this on the basis she is now mega-famous. There is no way the Iranian authorities do not know about her. She has been in media reports, international film festivals want to show Cul de Sac.

“She is not a household name but there is a lot of interest. It is impossible that they do not know about her.”

Today, the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government promised it would stop the deportation of gay or trans asylum seekers who were at “proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution”.

More: Middle East

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