UK – Petition: “Urgently Review the Way LGBT Asylum Seekers Are Treated” on Downing St Website
Text of the petition :
In the light of the cases of Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi, Iranian LGBT asylum seekers, who sought asylum in the UK, we call upon the Prime Minister for an urgent review of the treatment of all LGBT asylum seekers. In particular we think that the following are needed for fair treatment –
1. Compulsory training for all asylum staff on sexual-orientation and trans-awareness.
2. Explicit instructions to all immigration and asylum staff, and asylum judges, that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.
3. Clearer and up-to-date guidance from the Home Office for asylum judges to reflect the accurate scale of LGBT persecution throughout the world using expert information from NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
4. Legal-aid funding for asylum claims needs to be substantially increased.
Submitted by Phelim Mac Cafferty, Amy Kennedy and Nigel Tart – Deadline to sign up by: 05 February 2009
LGBT Greens have launched a petition on the Downing St website to push urgent review of Home Office approaches to asylum for gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people.
The political group wants compulsory training for all asylum staff.
Earlier this year, gay rights groups were taken aback by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s assertion that gay men and lesbians who are “discreet” are not in danger in Iran.
The Iranian regime’s record of brutality towards sexual minorities is well-documented and the Islamic nation regularly uses torture and the death penalty.
The issue has not only been taken up by various LGBT equality rights groups such as the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration group, but has also attracted attention in the US.
In April, during the race Democratic nomination for President, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaign teams both condemned Gordon Brown and the UK government policy to deport LGBT people to countries where they face persecution, citing the controversial case of gay Iranian teenager Medhi Kazemi.
Phelim Mac Cafferty, media spokesperson for LGBT Greens stated: “After much campaigning on the issue since the cases of Iranian LGBT asylum seekers Pegah Emembakhsh and Mehdi Kazemi came to light, we have got clearance from the web team on the Prime Minister’s website for our petition.
“We now challenge the government to start treating LGBT asylum seekers with the fairness that they deserve.
“These are people who’ve often fled persecution, rape and torture who flee to our country and our response is to lock them up like criminals. We say enough is enough of this inhumane policy- we need to stick our necks out now and stand up for LGBT asylum seekers.”
The petition also calls for explicit instructions to all immigration and asylum staff and judges that homophobic and transphobic persecution are legitimate grounds for granting asylum.