Homsexuals in Iran: no worries


by Rumbold
24th June, 2008 at 1:54 pm    

Unity notices that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said that homesexuals aren’t persecuted in Iran, providing they are discreet about their behaviour:

“Gay and lesbian asylum-seekers can be safely deported to Iran as long as they live their lives “discreetly”, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has claimed. In a letter to a Liberal Democrat peer, seen by The Independent, Ms Smith said there was no “real risk” of gay men and lesbians being discovered by the Iranian authorities or “adverse action” being taken against those who were “discreet” about their behaviour.”

The crassness of this is staggering. All I can do is to quote Unity:

“It’s difficult to know quite which element in all this is the more despicable; the “Sir Humprey’s” at the Home Office who seem to think that UNHCR’s recommendations are some sort of finger buffet from which they can pick and choose the elements that suit their desire to hit targets for deportations, or Smith’s unthinking parroting of the official line, which puts political expediency ahead of not only of Labour’s longstanding commitments to equality and human rights but ahead, even, of basic human compassion.”


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  1. ORDOVICIUS — on 24th June, 2008 at 2:18 pm  

    Surely there are no gays in Iran (well, except on Death Row)

  2. Nav — on 24th June, 2008 at 2:41 pm  

    Jacqui Smith saying something stupid?

    Quelle surprise.

  3. Random Guy — on 24th June, 2008 at 3:10 pm  

    You’re not surprised by this are you? Everything is about political expediency these days.

    What kind of morality and ethics do you expect from a government who wages illegal war for res- oops, there’s me doing it again. Sorry, ignore that second part.

  4. Nav — on 24th June, 2008 at 3:16 pm  

    Random Guy:

    Iz u beein faseeshus?

  5. Refresh — on 24th June, 2008 at 3:21 pm  

    Ordovicius, its better to have a debate armed with facts.

    Here is a quote from your link:

    ‘In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you that we have it.’

    I never thought that meant that there are no gays in Iran.

    Rumbold, this isn’t intended to distract from your post which I think is worthy of debate.

  6. ORDOVICIUS — on 24th June, 2008 at 3:23 pm  

    Ordovicius, its better to have a debate armed with facts.

    Whatever you say, Jacqui

  7. Refresh — on 24th June, 2008 at 3:55 pm  

    No seriously – your debut is heavily indebted to that quote, I would like to understand your logic.

    Does it say Iran has no gays? I realise that was the spin at the time, and people laughed. Did you buy into the spin, or are you asking us to buy into it?

  8. ashik — on 24th June, 2008 at 4:05 pm  

    Rumbold, why are important facts omitted in this article?

    The Home Secretary’s position reflects current legal caselaw arrived at by the INDEPENDENT judiciary based upon EVIDENCE from in-country. So why are you lot complaining? Is there something you lot know that a panel of Senior Immigration Judges don’t? Do tell…

    Caselaw of HJ (homosexuality: reasonably tolerating living discreetly) Iran [2008] UKAIT 00044 finds:

    ‘Risk of persecution must be measured by how an appellant WILL behave, based on the evidence, rather than how he SHOULD behave. In answering how he will behave the court must assess whether that would result in the individual having to live a life which he cannot ‘reasonably be expected to tolerate’ (para 39).

    ‘The Tribunal took into account the more openly gay life style the appellant has been able to live in the UK but finds he adaptation back to life in Iran would be something he could reasonably be expected to tolerate’ (para 44).

  9. douglas clark — on 24th June, 2008 at 4:32 pm  

    ashik @ 8,

    Can you provide a link please?

  10. ashik — on 24th June, 2008 at 4:43 pm  

    Here is the link to the determination:

    http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKIAT/2008/00044.html

  11. Owen Blacker — on 24th June, 2008 at 4:55 pm  

    Ashik,

    That is the most naïve summary of how our immigration and asylum system operates that I’ve ever read.

    I’d suggest you try speaking with some lawyers who work on asylum cases and try reading about some of what happens to people accused (falsely or otherwise) of being gay in Iran.

    Then you might realise that your “important facts” are more like “subjective opinions” based on very little evidence whatsoever.

  12. sonia — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:01 pm  

    ha id like to see her try!
    has no one noticed how Home Secretaries just do this sort of thing? regardless of party stripes? I suppose its not a job a feeling person would want really.

  13. Nav — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:08 pm  

    Owen Blacker speaks sense.

    Cool name, by the way: “The name’s Blacker… ThanYourAverage…”

  14. ORDOVICIUS — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:15 pm  

    Does it say Iran has no gays? I realise that was the spin at the time, and people laughed. Did you buy into the spin, or are you asking us to buy into it?

    Try looking at the other link

  15. Refresh — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:17 pm  

    ‘Try looking at the other link’

    I rather you told me in your own words what you think that quotation says.

  16. ORDOVICIUS — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:23 pm  

    I rather you told me in your own words what you think that quotation says.

    Ah, a student

  17. douglas clark — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:24 pm  

    Ashik,

    That is quite an astonishing judgement. They say, firstly that HJ had managed to maintain his lifestyle in Iran up until he was 31, they call an expert witness who says that things are now much worse, what with increased oppression and neighbourhood watches, and all. And they still think it’s a safe decision to return him? That is chutzpah.

  18. Refresh — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:39 pm  

    ‘Ah, a student’

    Not really.

  19. Owen Blacker — on 24th June, 2008 at 5:45 pm  

    @Nav: *GRIN*

  20. sonia — on 24th June, 2008 at 6:10 pm  

    i guess ashik is an automaton, reads ‘in-country’ statistics (which have been compiled by who? the goverment? officials?:-) and thinks this represents ‘objective truth’. what a laugh!

    i wonder if he also believes what the US authorities say about Guantanamo and waterboarding and what have you.

  21. Sallama Hu'Alayha — on 24th June, 2008 at 6:47 pm  

    Yeah, I guess ALL asylum seekers are safe in their country as long as they don’t tell anyone about anything. Right?
    Yeah, I see the logic.

  22. Don — on 24th June, 2008 at 7:08 pm  

    Given all the apparent safeguards (about the number of witnesses, multiple chances to repent etc.) one is forced to conclude that Iranian gays are a most determinedly suicidal demographic. Given that so many of them are executed.

    And there are no gays in Iran because homosexuality is not recognised. There are officially only heterosexuals choosing to engage in homosexual practices.

  23. Rumbold — on 24th June, 2008 at 8:01 pm  

    Ashik:

    “So why are you lot complaining? Is there something you lot know that a panel of Senior Immigration Judges don’t? Do tell…”

    Evidently yes. We know that homosexuals are persecuted in Iran. Just because a judge made a decision doesn’t make it the right one.

  24. Gibs — on 24th June, 2008 at 8:08 pm  

    After hearing that a Filipino man whose wife (a nurse) was about to be deported following her death (as a result of an NHS blunder) in the same week that Abu Qattada was granted bail – nothing surprises me about Labour’s immigration policy anymore.

    The only people that seem to get deported back to the middle east and Pakistan are those that AREN’T terrorists or criminals.

  25. Dave S — on 24th June, 2008 at 8:17 pm  

    Riiiiiiiiight!

    Iran is totally safe for gays, is it Jacqui bloody Smith?

    Which is why two gay teenage lovers were publicaly hung there in 2005, I suppose:

    http://direland.typepad.com/direland/2005/07/iran_executes_2.html

    Why the hell should anyone have to be “discrete” about one of the most fundamental of human emotions? Fuck off you condescending, heartless, inhuman bitch!

    You cannot control who you fall in love with – end of discussion. This is a total crock of shit, and she knows it.

    I’d forgotten how upset I was about those two poor young lads – executed just for being in love! One of the most depressing and tragic pieces of news I’ve ever heard in my life, and I’m not even gay myself.

    Bastard law makers.

  26. BenSix — on 24th June, 2008 at 8:25 pm  

    Again, I wonder whether our leaders actually KNOW anybody.

    Ben

  27. Rumbold — on 24th June, 2008 at 9:18 pm  

    Yup.

  28. douglas clark — on 24th June, 2008 at 9:44 pm  

    Not really off topic at all, but Sarah, via Liberal Conspiracy has this story too:

    http://samedifference1.wordpress.com/2008/06/23/from-disability-to-deportation/

    Now we condemn children to a lifetime of deafness in order to fulfill quotas?

    I despair at times. I really do.

  29. Don — on 24th June, 2008 at 9:51 pm  

    Is there something you lot know that a panel of Senior Immigration Judges don’t? Do tell…

  30. douglas clark — on 24th June, 2008 at 10:01 pm  

    Don,

    Well, according to our friend Unity, one way of escaping the death penalty for being gay is to have a sex change. As Unity’s facts are usually irreproachable, maybe he should be an expert witness too.

    See here:

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/06/24/youll-be-safe-in-the-closet-maybe/

    His strap line ‘Safe in the Closet’ ought to resonanate with a previous generation of UK politicians, should it not. And perhaps Judges too.

    For those that don’t do links, Unity suggests that around 20,000 sex change operations have occurred in Iran, mostly to meet a Fatwah that the solution to homosexuality was to reassign the person the other gender. Situation solved!

    Bloody Hell.

  31. Don — on 24th June, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

    Sorry, forgot to put it in quotes.

    #8

  32. fugstar — on 25th June, 2008 at 1:10 am  

    i love it how thick people can be with ahmedinejad misquotes. i think one of the problems with irani state engagement with the issue is that they over
    do the surgical ‘fix’.

    muslim societies will not promote or mainstream homosexuality. its a no brainer really but a useful political tool for some, and its getting tired.

    it would a nice change to have a sober analysis based on empirical evidence, rather than self defeating human rights bitching.

  33. Kulvinder — on 25th June, 2008 at 1:14 am  

    Ashik is correct; and that judgement is by no means an attractive one, but there is almost no political or public will to remedy the situation, these are after all asylum seekers – the lowest of the low; no MP would want to fight for them.

    The courts as a starting point take an incredibly narrow and very difficult to reach view of what persecution actually means, and in my opinion often resort to little more than sophistry. When the poor man in Ashik’s link first came to Britain he basically said he had a gay relationship in Iran, his mother knew and accepted he was gay as did a small group of friends. He lived a gay life discreetly in Iran for 13 years and wasn’t caught.

    The court basically said the way he did behave in Iran took prominence and was tolerable as a way of life compared to the way he should be allowed to behave (openly as in the UK). The risk of being caught by the authorities was acceptable as there were no ongoing pogroms in Iran – regardless of what would happen if he was caught.

    It is shameful.

  34. Kulvinder — on 25th June, 2008 at 1:19 am  

    Well, according to our friend Unity, one way of escaping the death penalty for being gay is to have a sex change.

    Bizarre but true, you have to remember that Iran is an islamic country as defined by Khomeini. Transexualism is a social taboo but perfectly legal, whats more they actually allow them to alter their birth certificates (unlike us).

  35. ashik — on 25th June, 2008 at 10:30 am  

    I don’t understand the reaction to the caselaw on homosexuals in Iran.

    Do people not want an informed debate?
    How else are the authorities to come to a decision?
    Are all Iranian homosexuals to be granted asylum?
    Is this sustainable?

    Rumbold started the debate and I feel that I have contributed to that by providing the legal criteria used by the Judiciary, Home Office and the legal profession to come to decisions on homosexuals in Iran. I neither agree nor disagree with the caselaw. However, it WILL be a case the Immigration Judge has to take in to account.

  36. douglas clark — on 25th June, 2008 at 10:43 am  

    Ashik,

    I’m actually pleased that you did give us that link. It is only through reading that sort of information that anyone has any chance of establishing quite what criteria are being used. So, to the contrary, I think you have made a valuable contribution to this debate.

    I wasn’t for one moment holding you personally accountable.

  37. sonia — on 25th June, 2008 at 11:48 am  

    good comment douglas

  38. Kulvinder — on 25th June, 2008 at 12:17 pm  

    Are all Iranian homosexuals to be granted asylum?

    They should be, yes

    Is this sustainable?

    Odd question, i have no idea what ‘sustainable’ means, after being granted asylum they should obviously be allowed to work.

  39. Refresh — on 25th June, 2008 at 12:30 pm  

    ‘Are all Iranian homosexuals to be granted asylum?

    They should be, yes’

    As I understand it case law is also driven by ‘public interest’, which in effect is policy determined by the government. So if policy is to reduce immigration, then I would expect the tribunals etc. would be swayed by that. Which of course relates to ‘sustainability’.

    I believe it to be a numbers game.

  40. douglas clark — on 25th June, 2008 at 12:57 pm  

    Refresh,

    I believe it to be a numbers game.

    So do I.

    Which takes us right around in a circle and back to Rumbolds original contention, quoting Unity:

    ….or Smith’s unthinking parroting of the official line, which puts political expediency ahead of not only of Labour’s longstanding commitments to equality and human rights but ahead, even, of basic human compassion.

    The point about asylum is that it is bloody well supposed to be humanitarian, not a stupid statistical ‘who can piss the highest’ contest.

    Political triangulation is squeezing the pips out of our compassion, I think.

    I trust that we agree?

  41. Refresh — on 25th June, 2008 at 1:36 pm  

    I think we do.

  42. douglas clark — on 25th June, 2008 at 1:39 pm  

    Yipee!

  43. fug — on 25th June, 2008 at 2:39 pm  

    they probably prefer canada anyway.

  44. ashik — on 25th June, 2008 at 5:11 pm  

    ‘Are all Iranian homosexuals to be granted asylum?

    They should be, yes’

    In that case every man and his grandad from Turkmenistan to Timbuktu will probably claim to be an Iranian homosexual caught having sex on the rooftop by a Mullah!

    I think the present system whereby asylum applications are decided on a case-by-case basis based on their merits and with an eye on credibility and guided by caselaw and policies is probably best. Not perfect though.

    ps. Sonia @20 you don’t seem to understand that the link clearly shows there were two legal representatives at that hearing. One for the Home Sec and the other for the appellant. So both sides presented their cases and submitted evidence. There is no question that only one side was afforded this facility. How much more ‘objective’ can the evidence be? :bewildered:

  45. jungle — on 25th June, 2008 at 10:49 pm  

    ASHIK: “In that case every man and his grandad from Turkmenistan to Timbuktu will probably claim to be an Iranian homosexual caught having sex on the rooftop by a Mullah!”

    Which changes what, exactly?

    By that logic we should deport ALL genuine asylum seekers automatically, whatever they are fleeing, in case their true story gives inspiration for others to make up lies. The whole point of having a court (ostensibly, at least) is to filter out the liars.

    As for your suggestion that this would mean accepting any gay Iranian who applied, well, um, yes: the only alternative as far as I can see is to actively help the Iranian regime to kill them, by systematically deporting them into the hands of their waiting police force. I suppose you’d prefer that to the horrific and spine-chilling spectre of having a few gay Iranians about the place, being so hideously Iranian and gay all over Hounslow or something.

    Perhaps you’d volunteer to be the official to help the gay Iranians off the plane at the Tehran end.

    “I think the present system whereby asylum applications are decided on a case-by-case basis based on their merits… is probably best”

    That’s NOT the current system. The current system is, to put it bluntly, to deport as many people as possible on any conceivable technicality and/or weasel argument such as this one, in order to appease the tabloids (which, of course, will never be appeased, since that would reduce sales)

    The Iranians will know this man is a homosexual, because he is well known to have applied for asylum on those grounds. The penalty in Iran for being a homosexual is death. It is therefore pretty damn self-evident that if he is deported to Iran he is highly likely to be arrested, charged, and then executed. Of course, he’ll have a right to a defence lawyer and all in the court in Iran, so I suppose that’s alright with you, how much more ‘objective’ could the death sentence be!? :bewildered:

    But that’s really not the issue: the court’s core argument was really that he brought his persecution on himself (by failing to obey Iranian law, when he could technically have done so) so he has no right to protection from that persecution, and should go back to Iran to await his fate. If the system accepts that kind of blatent sophistry as legitimate, there’s something clearly wrong.

    That argument would provide grounds to refuse virtually every claim for political asylum. You could, for example, argue with absolutely equal validity that a political dissident from Zimbabwe brought persecution upon themselves by stupidly speaking out when they could easily have avoided persecution by being a good boy and doing as they were told by Mugabe, and therefore should be refused asylum, and returned to Zimbabwe to await their punishment.

    This whole blatently unfair racket is based on the government’s assumption – thanks in no small part to the tabloids – that the electorate are so pervasively racist that they don’t care if foreigners are deported to imminent torture or death for committing no significant crime, so long as that means they don’t have to hear about another (ugh!) foreign scrounger using up their tax money by getting an op on the NHS.

    And that, frankly, stinks.

  46. douglas clark — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:26 am  

    Ashik,

    Thanks again for providing the judgement, which informs my criticisms.

    I think the present system whereby asylum applications are decided on a case-by-case basis based on their merits and with an eye on credibility and guided by caselaw and policies is probably best. Not perfect though.

    Agreed. But you take your arguement too far I think when you say:

    In that case every man and his grandad from Turkmenistan to Timbuktu will probably claim to be an Iranian homosexual caught having sex on the rooftop by a Mullah!

    The first paragraph of the judgement says this:

    The appellant was born on 6 June 1970. He is an Iranian male who is homosexual, who practised homosexuality in Iran and who has continued to do so since his arrival in the United Kingdom. He claimed asylum on arrival in the UK on 17 December 2001.

    In other words the prosecution in this case didn’t dispute the fact of his homosexuality. It was accepted, for the purposes of the trial that he was homosexual. That was never the subject of the judgement. It is ludicrous to argue otherwise.

    The point being that returning a homosexual to an increasingly, see para 19, environment was at the very least dangerous, especially as Iran now admits to 2,148 cases of sodomy, which, at worst carries the death penalty. It also seems obvious that the judiciary did not understand your own expert witness It is also interesting that only one expert witness appears to have been called.

    I think it stinks.

  47. douglas clark — on 26th June, 2008 at 12:34 am  

    Sorry,

    if anyone is still reading:

    not ‘your expert witness’

    rather ‘their expert witness’

    Well, it matters to me.

  48. Don — on 26th June, 2008 at 1:21 am  

    jungle,

    Well said.

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