Gay Iranian teen denied asylum in UK after mullahs hang boyfriend

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in the UK after his boyfriend was executed by the Iranian authorities now faces the same fate after losing his legal battle for asylum. Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged. Kazemi’s father in Tehran told him by telephone that before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been interrogated about sexual relations he had with other men. Kazemi filed for asylum, but late in 2007 his case was refused and he fled for The Netherlands.

Kazemi wrote in a letter to the British Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith: “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… I cannot stop my attraction towards men. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I was born with the feeling and cannot change this fact but it is unfortunate that I cannot express my feeling in Iran. If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like my former boyfriend.”

Kazemi’s future will now be decided by a Dutch appeal court, which will rule whether to grant him permission to apply for asylum in The Netherlands, which offers special protection to gay Iranians, or else deport him back to the UK. Peter Tatchell of the British gay rights group Outrage, described the government’s policy as “outrageous and shameful… If Mehdi is sent back to Iran he will be at risk of execution because of his homosexuality. This is a flagrant violation of Britain’s obligations under the refugee convention.” (The Independent, March 6)

See our last post on Iran.