Friday, March 07, 2008

Shame on the Home Office - Again

You would think by now that I'd have become accustomed to the harsh and brutal decisions made by the Home Office regarding asylum seekers and people seeking to settle in this country. In two years I've seen breastfeeding babies separated from their mothers (which is against Home Office policy), several people deported to almost certain persecution and even when our Embassies make a clear error, it's still the person who wants to live here who suffers.

I'm still shocked and horrified every time I see a new injustice. Now Mehdi Kazemi, a young gay Iranian student has been refused asylum in Britain because, according to the Home Office, he'd be fine going back there as long as he was discreet. Fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, a much more enlightened country where they understand the realities of the situation facing him. Unfortunately, because of some obscure treaty, the Dutch are not allowed to accept him as he is only allowed to apply to one EU country.

At best the Home Office's attitude is discriminatory. At worst, if they deport him, they are as guilty as the Iranian authorities of whatever fate befalls him. We believe in a free and liberal society. Labour, to their credit, have passed some good laws enshrining the rights of gay people. Why, then, on their watch, do they send people back to pretty much certain death? Mehdi doesn't have discretion as an option. His boyfriend gave the authorities his name under torture before his execution.

If you want the Home Office to grant him asylum, or to allow the Dutch to do so, please make your voice heard by writing to the Home Secretary. Simon Hughes is his MP and has written very eloquently in today's Independent about his plight. I agree with Simon that no lesbian or gay man should ever be sent back to Iran.

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