Wednesday, May 21, 2008


With pressure, even the most unenthusiatic and slow-moving bureaucrats can change their tune.

A gay man who faces the death penalty in Iran has won asylum in the UK after protests prompted the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to reconsider his case.

Family and supporters of Mehdi Kazemi, now 20, welcomed the decision yesterday not to send him back to Iran where his boyfriend was arrested by the state police and executed for sodomy.
Mr Kazemi came to London to study in 2005, but in April 2006 discovered his gay partner had been arrested and named him as his boyfriend before his execution. Fearing he might suffer the same fate if he returned, Mr Kazemi decided to seek asylum in Britain. His claim was refused and he fled to the Netherlands where he also failed to win asylum before returning to Britain last month.
In an open letter to the British Government, Mr Kazemi told the Home Secretary: "I wish to inform the Secretary of State that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me."

Yesterday, the UK Border Agency said it had decided to allow him asylum, granting him leave to remain for five years.

More background here.


  1. That's wonderful news. It is disturbing that the British government was considering sending him back to Iran in the first place.

  2. hey libhom...thanks for the comment. Well, what amazed me was that the Dutch booted him out, too! But having just returned from a visit to see family in NL, I'm not surprised: there's a deffo right-ward slant in the politics there at the mo' and islamophobia is still alive.
    I don't really know if that has much to do with Mr Kazemi's case, however. But that goes against the long held idea that NL was HomoLand.

  3. jayv: I've talked to a gay man from the Netherlands recently. There is a lot of understandable resentment among queer and female Dutch people because a lot of Muslim immigrants are coming to their country, making sexist and heterosexist comments, and demanding that homosexuality and abortion be banned.

    Anti-Muslim sentiment there isn't comparable to the anti-immigrant sentiment in the US. In the Netherlands, an immigrant group is trying to tell a nation of people how to live their lives, the same nation that has been occupied by foreign powers doing just that way too many times in the past.

    The real problem is religion. The Netherlands had progressed to the point of becoming one of the world's most secular societies. If any religious group came in and tried to clamp down on them, that group would be facing the same well-earned hostility. If American fundamentalist Christians started migrating their and Bible thumping, the reaction would be the same.

  4. Well, I think part of what you say is true. Although now pretty secular indeed, the Dutch history shows that people of other faiths (Hugenots and Jews) were accepted, too.


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