In 2003 Israfil Shiri poured petrol over himself in the offices of a refugee charity and set himself alight. The Iranian authorities knew he too was gay, but his application for asylum was refused in 2002. He killed himself after living nine months destitute, unable to work, get benefits or even access medical treatment.
In June 2004 Hussein Nasseri shot himself in the head in a car park by a children’s playground. He had been persecuted for being gay in Iran, and had claimed asylum in the UK, but was turned down. Rather than face the hangman’s noose he decided to kill himself instead.
In 2006 Mehdi Kazemi was to be deported back to Iran, from which he had claimed asylum, following his boyfriend’s disclosure of their relationship in Iran under torture and subsequent execution. Simon Hughes prevented his deportation, but not trusting the system, Mehdi fled to Germany and the Netherlands, from where he now faces extradition. The Dublin Convention necessitates that asylum seekers be processed in the country of their ‘arrival’, even though in this case that country handles gay asylum seekers in a blatantly discriminatory way. The Netherlands on the other hand officially proscribes gay people as a group deserving of special protection and has a moratorium on any such deportations back to Iran. Ironic that without EU legislation Mehdi’s security would be guaranteed, but it isn’t. The European Commission has intervened recently, saying:
“Member States cannot expel or refuse refugee status to homosexual persons without taking into account their sexual preferences, the information relevant to the situation in their country of origin, including the laws and ways in which they are applied”.
Whether or not it would have any power though to prevent Mehdi’s deportation is unclear. I agree with the EveryOne group that the Netherlands must indeed take a stand for human rights and set aside the Dublin Convention because of the human rights violations of the United Kingdom. In running a policy which is blatantly discriminatory against gay people (‘just be discreet’ is something out of the 1950s), it is in violation of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which in turn should require intervention by the European Council, except it has no influence over immigration policy. However his bid to stay in the Netherlands appears to have failed, and he might be back in this country by the end of this week. Whatever happens next, join me and others in a demonstration on Saturday March 22nd, opposite Downing Street. If nothing else we can try to shame Gordon Brown into intervening.
Please get angry and do something.