UK: Mehdi Must Stay Demo – Iran’s Homophobic Persecution Condemned – Call to Reform the Asylum System to Protect LGBT Refugees, London, 22 March 2008


Mehdi must stay demo

Iran’s homophobic persecution condemned

Call to reform the asylum system to protect LGBT refugees
London – 25 March 2008

Over 120 protesters braved hail and rain to demand that gay Iranian asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi, be granted refuge in the UK.

They also urged asylum for the Iranian lesbian refugee, Pegah Emambakhsh, and an estimated 12 other gay Iranians who are at risk of deportation back to Tehran.

There were calls for a “fundamental reform” of the way the Home Office treats LGBTI asylum applicants.

The demonstration took place opposite the Prime Minister’s residence, Downing Street, on Saturday 22 March.

See photos of the protest:
(credit: OutRage! – free use, no charge)

“The British government had ordered Mr Kazemi to be deported back to Iran,” said protest speaker Peter Tatchell, spokesperson for the LGBTI human rights group OutRage!.

“Following worldwide protests, the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith MP, has agreed to review Mehdi’s case. While there is no guarantee that this review will result in him being allowed to stay, we are hopeful that he will be permitted to lodge a fresh asylum claim and that this will result in Mehdi being given refugee status in the UK.”

Saturday’s protest was sponsored by Middle East Workers’ Solidarity and the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, with the support of OutRage!

The protest’s three main demands were:

– Don’t send Mehdi Kazemi back to Iran
– Iran’s homophobic laws violate human rights
– Give the victims of homophobic persecution the right to settle in the UK


Peter Tatchell told the rally:

“There needs to be a fundamental reform of the way the Home Office processes LGBTI asylum applications.

“The government is currently failing LGBTI refugees:

“Asylum staff and adjudicators receive race and gender awareness training but no training at all on sexual orientation issues. As a result, they often make stereotyped assumptions: that a feminine woman can’t be a lesbian or that a masculine man cannot be gay. They sometimes rule that someone who has been married must be faking their homosexuality.

“The government refuses to explicitly rule that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum. This signals to asylum staff and judges that claims by LGBTI people are not as worthy as those based on persecution because of a person’s ethnicity, gender, politics or faith.

“The Home Office country reports on homophobic and transphobic persecution are often partial, inaccurate and misleading. They consistently downplay the severity of victimisation suffered by LGBTI people in violently homophobic countries like Iran, Nigeria, Iraq, Uganda, Palestine, Algeria and Jamaica.

“Cuts in the funding of legal aid for asylum claims means that most asylum applicants – gay and straight – are unable to prepare an adequate submission at their asylum hearing. Most solicitors don’t get paid enough to procure the necessary witness statements, medical reports and other vital corroborative evidence.

“The Home Office has failed to take action to stamp out anti-gay abuse, threats and violence in UK asylum detention centres. Some LGBTI detainees report suffering homophobic or transphobic victimisation, and say they have failed to receive adequate protection or support from detention centre staff,” said Mr Tatchell.

Further information:

Peter Tatchell, OutRage!

Protest photos:

Photos of the protest can be viewed and used free of charge for publication from the OutRage! photo website:

Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:

Permission is required from Marc Vallee for publication:
Mark Valee:



  1. therion

    Peter Tatchell has done some excellent work on the Kazemi case. I find it disappointing that elements on the left have attempted to cast his efforts in a negative light. I agree there is a danger that concern for human rights may be conflated in the minds of some into a pro-Washington agenda. However as Peter Tatchel has stated many times – “neither Tehran, nor Washington.” He has been clear on this.

    Some on the left seem to believe that opposition to American aggression means we have to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in nations such as Iran. I don’t believe it is so simple. I personally strongly oppose American military aggression, and would much prefer to see Iranians determining the course of their own nation. However I remain a strong advocate also of the fight to end human rights violations. I see no contradiction between the two positions.

  2. noel

    i think that homosexuals should have the same right as other people in this world i mean their still people like you and i right so why are we so prejudice a people that are homosexual if you were a homosexual you wouldn’t believe how hard it would be to have a lot of people coming up to you every day to critize you just becuase you like her or you like him… doesn’t matter if your freakin religous and youuuuuuuuu!!!!!! think it’s wrong because if you have the right to love anybody you like then they should have the right too!! i’m tired of this crap about how stupid people in the world these days could be so freakin retarded they think that it’s fun to make fun of homosexuals…well it’s not okayyyy i hate people that talk shit and never do anything about it if you wanna talk shit then might as well handle it because all i can say is that your a pussy bitch….and i should fuck your shittttt up because this is bullshit…this is and you know what homosexuals will have their right someday….that’s right muthafucka…what now stupid ass cunts!!!

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