Current Affairs

Tory MP calls for UK to save Iranian teen sentenced to death for sodomy

Jessica Geen August 11, 2010
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A gay Conservative MP has urged Foreign Secretary William Hague to intervene in the case of an Iranian teenager sentenced to death for sodomy.

Iain Stewart, the MP for Milton Keynes South, called for pressure on Iran to show some “human compassion” in the case of Ebrahim Hamidi.

Mr Hamidi, 18, was sentenced to death two years ago at the age of 16 for an unspecified assault on another man. Homosexuality is illegal in Iran.

Although the alleged victim withdrew his allegation, a provincial court is insisting on the death sentence despite the Iranian Supreme Court rejecting the guilty verdict and execution order.

The judge in the case is using a legal provision which allows for subjective judicial rulings where there is no conclusive evidence.

Mr Hamidi is understood to be heterosexual and gay rights campaigners such as Peter Tatchell say that this is an instance where straight people can be executed for homosexuality offences.

Mr Stewart, who is also the deputy chairman of Conservative LGBT group, LGBTory, said that the Foreign Office should pressure Iran to free Mr Hamidi or at least save him from the death penalty.

He added: “It is an outrage that this young man faces execution. In the first place it is utterly abhorrent that homosexual acts are illegal and carry draconian penalties in Iran. That, plus the fact that there is considerable doubt as to whether the event actually took place, makes it unthinkable that Ebrahim should lose his life.

“I am calling on the Foreign Office to do whatever it can to exert diplomatic pressure on Iran to show some human compassion and free this young man, or at very least commute the death penalty.

“In the meantime, my heart goes out to Ebrahim and his family at this dreadful time”.

Matthew Sephton, LGBTory chairman, added that the coalition government has promised to use its influence abroad to change views on “cruel and outdated” laws against homosexuality.

He said: ”I just hope that Mr Hague is able to speak to the Iranian government and that Ebrahim is saved from such barbaric treatment from his own country.” is awaiting comment from the Foreign Office.

Mr Hamidi was arrested with three other men in 2008, after a fight between two disputing families. The alleged victim initially claimed he had been sexually assaulted but later withdrew his allegation, saying his family had pressured him into making it.

The three other men were cleared of the charges. All four said they had been tortured and Mr Hamidi said he had signed a confession which was not true.

Previously, he was represented by the human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei but Mr Mostafaei has gone into hiding after a warrant for his arrest was issued.

The lawyer is also representing Sakineh Ashtiani, the Iranian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning on charges of adultery.

Speaking last week, UK-based gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “Ebrahim’s case shows the flaws and failings of the Iranian legal system. It is further evidence that innocent people are sentenced on false charges of homosexuality.”

“An international campaign can help stop Ebrahim’s execution, just as a similar global campaign has, so far, halted the stoning to death of Sakineh Ashtiani.”

More: Middle East

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