25 Mar 2008

Mehdi must stay demo

Iran's homophobic persecution condemned

Call to reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees

London – 25 March 2008

Over 120 protesters braved hail and rain to demand that gay Iranian
asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be granted refuge in the UK.

They also urged asylum for the Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah
Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other gay Iranians who are at risk of
deportation back to Tehran.

There were calls for a "fundamental reform" of the way the Home Office
treats LGBTI asylum applicants.

The demonstration took place opposite the Prime Minister's residence,
Downing Street, on Saturday 22 March.

See photos of the protest:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/
(credit: OutRage! – free use, no charge)

"The British government had ordered Mr Kazemi to be deported back to
Iran," said protest speaker Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the LGBTI
human rights group OutRage!.

"Following worldwide protests, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP,
has agreed to review Mehdi's case. While there is no guarantee that
this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful
that he will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this
will result in Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK."

Saturday's protest was sponsored by Middle East Workers' Solidarity
and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, with the support of
OutRage!

The protest's three main demands were:

- Don't send Mehdi Kazemi back to Iran
- Iran's homophobic laws violate human rights
- Give the victims of homophobic persecution the right to settle in the UK

Peter Tatchell told the rally:

"There needs to be a fundamental reform of the way the Home Office
processes LGBTI asylum applications.

"The government is currently failing LGBTI refugees:

"Asylum staff and adjudicators receive race and gender awareness
training but no training at all on sexual orientation issues. As a
result, they often make stereotyped assumptions: that a feminine woman
can't be a lesbian or that a masculine man cannot be gay. They
sometimes rule that someone who has been married must be faking their
homosexuality.

"The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and
transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.
This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by LGBTI people
are not as worthy as those based on persecution because of a person's
ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.

"The Home Office country reports on homophobic and transphobic
persecution are often partial, inaccurate and misleading. They
consistently downplay the severity of victimisation suffered by LGBTI
people in violently homophobic countries like Iran, Nigeria, Iraq,
Uganda, Palestine, Algeria and Jamaica.

"Cuts in the funding of legal aid for asylum claims means that most
asylum applicants - gay and straight – are unable to prepare an
adequate submission at their asylum hearing. Most solicitors don't get
paid enough to procure the necessary witness statements, medical
reports and other vital corroborative evidence.

"The Home Office has failed to take action to stamp out anti-gay
abuse, threats and violence in UK asylum detention centres. Some LGBTI
detainees report suffering homophobic or transphobic victimisation,
and say they have failed to receive adequate protection or support
from detention centre staff," said Mr Tatchell.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage! 020 7403 1790

Protest photos:

Photos of the protest can be viewed and used free of charge for
publication from the OutRage! photo website:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/

Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog_mehdi_220308.html

Permission is required from Marc Vallee for publication:

Mark Valee:
studio: ++ 44 (0) 1923 822170
cell: ++ 44 (0) 7947 181204

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.blog.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.archive.marcvallee.co.uk

ENDS

--
Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
http://www.greenoxford.com/ and www.petertatchell.net

PETER TATCHELL HUMAN RIGHTS FUND

Donations are requested to help fund Peter Tatchell's campaigns
promoting human rights, democracy and global justice. Peter is unpaid
and receives no grants.

To continue his human rights work, he depends on donations from
friends and supporters.

Please make cheques payable to: "Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund".

Send to: Peter Tatchell Human Rights Fund, PO Box 35253, London E1 4YF

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1 comment:

Jet said...

Mehdi is not completely safe yet and he needs all the support he can get!

Please visit http://www.madhikazemi.com/ and
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/UKMADHI/signatures.html as well.

Thnx in advance,

Jet