For five years I have covered various national and international stories on refugees – immigration detention centres, war on terror refugees, the Calais Jungle and Ugandan conflict survivors. This, the latest video report released through APTN Horizons, looks specifically at those forced to flee their countries because of their sexual orientation or gender.
Homosexuality is illegal in 80 countries across the world, it is punishable by death in seven. Uganda is also on the verge of implementing the death penalty raising that number to eight.
Homosexuality in Iran is punishable by hanging. Around 4000 LGBT people have been executed since the 1979 revolution. They are people like Saba in Turkey, who was betrayed by an ex-lover, or Peyman in London, who escaped the Basij and currently faces an uncertain future after his second appeal for asylum was refused.
The UK Home Office accepted he was gay, but ruled that he could return safely to Iran if he moved to another city, hid his identity and became “more discreet”, meaning he should not have any partners.
Neil Grungras is the Executive Director of San Francisco-based ORAM International. He claimed there are more LGBTs fleeing Iran than anywhere else in the world at this time.
Oram was set up give assistance to LGBT refugees applying for asylum and fighting appeals, to tackle the current failures of the immigration system and to educate on the existence of LGBT refugees.
OutRage! human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was recently described as possibly the “bravest man in Britain” in a Daily Mail article, condemned the UK Home Office and Border Agency for their regular stance of returning LGBT refugees to prison, torture and death penalties, as had already been witnessed in Peyman’s case.
“They’re told that they can go back and hide and change their identity and they’ll be safe,” he said, “that is not acceptable.”
Skye Chirape also had little good to say about the Home Office from her own experiences of bureauocracy, interviews and detention. She was also asked to prove she was gay.
“How do you prove you are gay? Its a very hard thing,” she said. “So it means if you are not in a relationship with someone then you can’t possibly be gay.“
The Home Office was questioned on “being discreet” and asked if they accepted countries like Iran upheld the death penalty for homosexuality. The reply agreed there was “strong hostility” in some countries.
Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border Agency, said: “We have a strong tradition of providing protection to those who genuinely need it and our process for meeting these obligations is fair.”
The video report is available from APTN Horizons.
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