We should be ashamed

// 12 March 2008

Shakesville has a good round-up post on the news that Mehdi Kazemi and Pegah Emambakhsh look set to be deported from the UK to Iran because of our government’s shameful asylum policy.

19 year-old Kazemi was actually forced to seek refuge in the Netherlands, because of fears that the UK government would deport him back to Iran, where two years ago, his boyfriend was hanged for sodomy. But a court in the Netherlands has ruled that he must return to the UK, where he faces deportation because Home Office policy does not accept that gay people face persecution in Iran.

Meanwhile, 40 year-old Pegah Emambakhsh has just lost the latest round in her asylum proceedings, and could be faced with forcible return to a country she fled when her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to death.

All of this is enough to make you sick to the stomach of our government, and at our first female Home Secretary.

But it’s also enough to make you sick at the right-wing, sensationalist press and the politicians which have pushed an anti-immigration agenda, and at the general population who buys into it – and at the government for caving in to it. Without the pressure to be seen to be ‘tough on immigration’, would this government have taken such a stance? It’s hard to reconcile.

Whether it’s trafficking or rights for migrant domestic workers, or simply the intersection of racism and sexism that women experience when they move to the UK, the anti-immigration agenda hurts women. It is a feminist issue. And the government’s policy is not good enough.

Comments From You

Leigh Woosey // Posted 13 March 2008 at 11:20 am

I signed a petition addressing this issue a couple of days ago.


Denise // Posted 13 March 2008 at 11:54 am

This is terrible. I thought UK law stated that asylum seekers couldn’t be forcibly returned to countries where they’d be in danger – which these two people clearly will be! Iran is one great big prison anway, unless you happen to have a cushy job as Judge Dread in your local Sharia court.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 13 March 2008 at 1:47 pm

Denise- the problem with the curent UK policy is that it is assumed that anybody who is persecuted for being homosexual can avoid it by hiding their sexuality or moving to a part of their country where nobody knows them. More detail from Peter Tatchell here. In interview rooms it is even suggested to asylum seekers that they can take a fake spouse and live in a sham marriage for the rest of their lives to avoid persecution.

I’m afraid the best thing I can suggest to end these appalling practices is to bring them to the attention of your local MP and ask him or her to raise the issue. This link should help you find and contact your MP.

Josie // Posted 13 March 2008 at 1:48 pm

My partner told me yesterday that a Home Office source said Mehdi Kazemi should “be ok” when he is sent back to Iran “as long as he’s discreet”. I haven’t been able to find a source to back this up so if anyone can help, please do. Utterly sickening. I feel that in this case, surely the buck stops with Jacqui Smith. This kind of attitude cannot be tolerated in a sane society – do people feel that her resignation would be appropriate? I’m leaning towards it…..

Sian // Posted 13 March 2008 at 7:14 pm

This case is disgusting.

Denise/Leigh Woosey-as well as them not taking the gay reason seriously, the government have a list of countries they won’t send people back to, but political pressure on decreasing numbers of foreigners means that they have been reducing the number of countries on that list, regardless of safety. Also, people from the countries on the list can still have their claim rejected, but they won’t get send back-effectively leaving them destitute (as they are not eligible for jobs or benefits).

Jodie-the Home Office told a Jamaican lesbian the same thing after they refused her asylum a few months ago.. “try to act less butch” I think was the exact phrase. How is someone supposed to lead a full life in this way, and why should they?

Regardless of one’s feelings on immigration, asylum should be treated completely separately to immigration. The thing is that the government knows the immigration is good for the economy but doesn’t want to admit this for fear of losing votes; so they try and get rid of those vulnerable people who maybe aren’t going to be propping the UK economy up.

Jet // Posted 29 March 2008 at 9:05 pm

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

Please visit http://www.madhikazemi.com as well.

Thnx in advance,


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