Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Is the aim to be a fatally unwelcoming country?

[trigger warning]

Via Shakesville, the news that yet another asylum seeker has had their application refused, on the apparent grounds that "will be executed because of their sexuality" is not sufficient persecution.

There is a petition to sign.

It is also possible to contact the Home Office and the Home Secretary Alan Johnson directly, even though the general election means that there are currently no MPs. Contact details are on the Home Office website.

My letter to them follows. You may find the government's information on UK asylum policy useful when drafting your own.

Dear Home Secretary Alan Johnson,

The asylum decisions made in the case of Kiana Firouz, a lesbian actress from Iran, have recently been brought to my attention. It is my understanding that the Home Office has rejected her asylum request and appeals.

According to the UK Asylum web pages,

"Asylum is protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country"


"The UK also adheres to the European Convention on Human Rights, which prevents us sending someone to a country where there is a real risk they will be exposed to torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

In Iran, the penalty for homosexuality is 100 lashes for the first three offences, followed by execution for a fourth offence. All of these surely count as "torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" and the strong possibly of execution surely must count as "persecution"

Returning Kiana Firouz to Iran is likely to lead to her death, and this decision seems to have been taken despite it contradicting both the European Convention on Human Rights, the Home Office's own statements on the criteria for accepting an asylum application, and the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, which states:

"No Contracting State shall expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of [...] membership of a particular social group."

I ask you to please reverse this decision in the case of Kiana Firouz, and to take steps to ensure that the UK never in future abandons any person to be executed, imprisoned or otherwise persecuted on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Yours sincerely,