- Title: FRANCE/NETHERLANDS: UK pressured not to deport gay Iranian
- Date: 13th March 2008
- Summary: (EU) STRASBOURG, FRANCE (MARCH 12, 2008) (REUTERS) SOUNDBITE (English) DUTCH MEP DUTCH SOFIA IN'T VELD SAYING: "I think anybody who's in danger should be granted asylum. What do you think the chances are realistically, that hundreds of thousands of people, particularly from countries like Iran, will come flooding to Europe and all claiming that they're homosexual? And let's not forget that there are other grounds for persecution such as religion, for example Christians: now do you really think people will do the same in that case? We know Iran is executing young homosexuals because of their sexual orientation. In the Netherlands we had the same debate and it turned out that it concerned about 10 cases per year. It may well be that amongst those ten there are five who claim to be homosexuals and they're really not. Well I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt rather than the Iranian government."
- Reuters ID: LVAB9ZYZDI08T4VKR7Q5X60KYHAA
- Duration: 00:00:49
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: MEPs in Strasbourg plan to call on the United Kingdom not to repatriate a teenaged Iranian who could face the death penalty in his homeland.
Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg will put forward a 'urgent resolution' on Thursday (March 13) calling on the United Kingdom to reverse its decision to repatriate a homosexual Iranian whose boyfriend was hanged by the Iranian authorities for being gay.
Nineteen-year-old Seyed Mehdi Kazemi is in a detention centre at Rotterdam airport after fleeing the United Kingdom where he was studying. He left after his application for asylum was turned down. He asked to stay in the UK after his partner was found guilty of sodomy and executed.
He then applied to the Netherlands for asylum but judges on Wednesday (March 12) ruled that he should be returned to the UK despite the fact that the Netherlands does not consider it safe for gay Iranians to stay in Iran.
The Dutch Liberal Democrat party D66 has appealed to the Dutch government not to send him back to the UK. Dutch MP Boris van der Ham, of D66, says the problem is that Dutch law cannot go against the decision because Kazemi initially fled from Britain not Iran.
"Britain says if you are silent in Iran about your sexuality, you don't have a problem over there, but we think that's a silly, silly interpretation of the law, so we see here that in Europe there are different interpretations of how to handle Iranian gay asylum seekers," said der Ham.
He has called on the government to carry out an inquiry into the case because, he argues, the fact that the Netherlands does not agree with Kazemi being sent back to Iran means that returning him to the UK is not in the spirit of the Dutch law.
"If there is a real chance that he will be sent back from Britain to Iran, I think it's not in the spirit of the law that we will cooperate with that. So I asked Secretary of State and of Justice, who is concerned with immigration issues that she will intervene in this case," der Ham added.
The European Parliament will argue on Thursday that the United Kingdom is infringing Kazemi's human rights by returning him to Iran.
British MEP Baroness Ludford and Dutch MEP Sophia int'Veld are amongst a group of Liberal MEP who will put forward the 'urgency resolution' to a vote at the parliament Speaking to Reuters, In't Veld countered the suggestion that thousands of Iranians claiming to be gay would pour into Europe.
"I think anybody who's in danger should be granted asylum. What do you think the chances are realistically, that hundreds of thousands of people, particularly from countries like Iran, will come flooding to Europe and all claiming that they're homosexual? We know Iran is executing young homosexuals because of their sexual orientation," she said.
"We need an agreement that all EU governments grant asylum to people who are persecuted on the grounds of sexual orientation or religion," she added.
The MEPs also want one common rule for all EU countries regarding gay men and women's safety in Iran and their repatriation.
The resolution wants the parliament to recognise that "persecution for sexual orientation (is) a ground to grant asylum and provide that Member States shall consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin".
Kazemi wants to bring the case to the European Court of Human rights in Strasbourg. He says that Iran knows of his relationship with the his former partner because he told them. He believes he passed on the information under torture.
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