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gayasylumuk condemns "inhumane, anti-gay" Labour government
The campaigning group gayaylumuk today called the comments of British Labour Home Secretary Jacqui Smith about retuning gays and lesbians to Iran "outrageous, shameful, inhumane and anti-gay".
In a letter to the LibDem MP Lord Roberts, Smith echoed government policy by claiming that it was safe to return people if they were "discreet".
Spokesperson, Paul Canning, said "we are calling for protest to be directed at Gordon Brown over the issue. Sign the petition."
"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. 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."
Human Rights Watch (HRW), the respected international authority often quoted by the government, has documented the persecution and torture of gays and lesbians in Iran, where sex can attract the death penalty.
In March they issued an alert over the raiding of a private party in Ishfahan. In May the Home Office was added to their 'Hall of Shame'.
Scott Long of HRW said: "Torturing and killing gays is legal in Iran: you don't need to view the bodies to prove it. International law bars Britain from returning people to the risk of torture. Britain must give gay Iranians asylum."
"Human Rights Watch has shown how Britain tries to redefine its obligations on torture, so it can send people back to states where they face grave risk. Usually it happens in the context of counterterrorism. But with gay Iranians, too, the government aims to change the rules, denying that legal torture is "persecution"."
gayasylumuk believes that the number of such asylum seekers in the UK is small, maybe 30. Such small numbers is also the case in other countries.
"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'", said Canning.
"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 countered the government's position, as restated in the Medhi Kazemi case in the House of Lords by the Home Office Minister, Lord West.
"We are extremely cautious about the way in which we treat these cases"
They have shown no evidence of caution. 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. There is a mass of evidence that Iran and other countries like Jamaica and Uganda are a 'deathzone'.
"We give detailed consideration to these cases"
This is not the experience of asylum seekers, and this is well documented. They do not consider the stated opinion of their own colleagues in the Foreign Office and never have. They misrepresent evidence of torture and systematic harassment by Human Rights Watch and other NGOs.
"They go through a rigorous appeals and court process"
As Smith has just reiterated, there is a Home Office policy that gays and lesbians can be returned if they are 'discreet'. Further, there is a history of the Home Office accepting bland assurances from the Iranian and other governments. Further, there is a lot of evidence of homophobic attitudes within the Appeals Court process.
"Obviously we have to follow and respect the integrity of that process"
Not if it is biased. Not if the outcome is guaranteed because of their (unstated) policy. There is no integrity to this process for gays and lesbians.
The group is calling on all British people outraged by government policy to sign the petition, established by Durham Methodist minister Walter Attwood, which says: 'we the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality'. to Gordon Brown (at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk
This petition says: 'we the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality'.
The petition has almost 3000 signatures but needs many more to achieve significance in the Number Ten petitions system, established by Downing Street to affect and inform policy.
gayasylumuk is a campaign group established by Omar Kuddas. It has supporters in the UK, USA, Europe and around the world.
- Further information on asylum seekers the Iranian lesbian threatened with deportation to torture and possible death by stoning, Pegah Emambakhsh, can be found on 'LGBT asylum news (formally Save Mehdi Kazemi)', the campaign's website
- Human Rights Watch: Iran: Private Homes Raided for 'Immorality'
Authorities Escalate Arbitrary Arrests, Harassment
- Human Rights Watch adds Home Office to 'Hall of Shame'
- Further information on Rev. Walter Attwood
A button promoting the petition to Gordon Brown, for use on websites and blogs, can also be found on our website.
Independent: Iran is safe for 'discreet' gays, says Jacqui Smith