Archive for the ‘LGBTT’ Category

http://www.iglhrc.org

Media Contact:
Frank Mugisha, SMUG, +256 772 616 062
Victor Juliet Mukasa, IGLHRC, +27 762 544 951

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) today condemned the arrests of three Ugandan LGBT activists and called for their immediate and unconditional release. The three — Onziema Patience, (an FTM transgender, 28), Valentine Kalende (female, age 27) and Auf (male, age 26) — were arrested yesterday morning by the Uganda Police Force at the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting currently taking place in Kampala, Uganda. Along with other LGBT and HIV and AIDS activists, they were peacefully protesting statements made by a Ugandan government official that no funds would be directed toward HIV programs targeting men who have sex with men. SMUG and IGLHRC have fears for the safety of the three activists.

On 2 May, 2008, Kihumuro Apuuli, Director General of the Uganda AIDS Commission, stated that, “gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meagre resources we cannot direct our programmes at them at this time.” The SMUG activists staged a peaceful protest at the HIV Implementers meeting to protest the Minister’s statements and gross neglect on the part of the Ugandan government in responding to a growing HIV epidemic among the country’s LGBT community. They were arrested and detained at the Jinja Road Police Station immediately after taking the stage at the meeting, distributing leaflets and holding up small placards demanding attention to HIV vulnerability among LGBT.

“Today I realized how dangerous it is for us LGBTI people to express our constitutional rights,” said Frank Mugisha, Co-Chairperson of SMUG. “I am worried about my comrades who are in police custody.”

According to a recent report by the University of Nairobi and the Population Council, gay men in neighboring Kenya have a sero prevalence rate of 26%. Twenty-six years since the beginning of the epidemic, Uganda hasn’t implemented a single program to prevent transmission of HIV among men who have sex with men in the East African nation.

“The remarks made by the head of the AIDS Commission were very disturbing to members of the LGBT community,” said Kasha Jacqueline, Chairperson of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian organization in Uganda. “If they want us to die, let them ask themselves if they wish themselves the same. Excluding us is just going to make the situation worse.”

The HIV Implementer’s Meeting is an annual event described as an opportunity for HIV program implementers to share lessons learned and best practices in the scale-up of HIV/AIDS programs. It is co-sponsored by the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), UNAIDS, the World Bank, the Global Fund, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (GNP+). IGLHRC is also requesting that the co-sponsors of the Implementers’ Meeting contact the Ugandan Government to demand the release of these activists.

“Gay men and lesbians are not ‘drivers of disease’,” said Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “Homophobia drives HIV. Silence drives HIV.”

In November 2004, the Ugandan government fined a local broadcaster, Radio Simba for airing a program that discussed anti-gay discrimination and the need for HIV/AIDS services for lesbians and gay men. The government claimed that Radio Simba had violated federal law promoting broadcasting that is contrary to “public morality.”

SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA (SMUG)

Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/view.php?id=7403

15th April 2008 18:20
Adam Lake

Biplob Hossain, a gay refugee from Bangladesh who is seeking asylum in Australia, and Joaquin Ramirez, facing deportation to El Salvador, have highlighted the plight of gay men who flee their countries to escape persecution.

Mr Hossain, 25, moved to Australia on a student visa when he was 19.

He applied for asylum on the basis that he would suffer persecution in Bangladesh. He was placed in a detention centre for 29 months.

After three rejections by the Refugee Review Tribunal and a failed High Court bid, Mr Hossain is hoping for a personal intervention from the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans.

He was released from Villawood Detention Centre in October 2006, but is not allowed to work or collect social security benefits.

Sandi Logan, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, told Australian SX News:

“A person’s sexual orientation does not of itself enable that person to be granted asylum.”

“We provide protection for asylum seekers under the UN definition of a refugee, under the Convention 67 protocol, which doesn’t include their sexual orientation or their fears of persecution associated with that orientation.”

Bangladeshi law states that gay sex acts are illegal and will be punished with deportation, fines and life imprisonment.

The national law itself is rarely directly enforced however there have been numerous reports of incidents of vigilantism.

People suspected of homosexuality have also been sentenced to death by a fatwa.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a gay man is facing deportation to his native El Salvador where he claims that three police officers who raped him are now out to kill him.

Joaquin Ramirez, a 39-year-old HIV-positive man said the accused perpetrators have visited his family and threatened to kill him because he infected them with the HIV virus.

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board doubted Mr Ramirez’s claims, asking why he did not seek legal support in his own country when the incident occurred.

Mr Ramirez told Canadian newspaper The Star:

“How could I go to the same people and ask them to protect me when it’s those people who did this to me?”

Mr Ramirez worked as a volunteer outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV.

He said he was picked on by three drunken officers at a restaurant in 2006 and driven to a plantation field where he was allegedly beaten and raped.

Five months later he claims a stranger called his sister and threatened to kill him for infecting them with the virus.

The refugee didn’t believe Ramirez left El Salvador because of the alleged assault as he had already planned to leave in November 2005.

The two stories come just weeks after the much published case of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.

Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association released the latest version of their map of LGBT rights across the world.

In 76 countries people face jail for having gay sex.

Homosexual acts officially carry the death penalty in several nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.

In many Muslim countries, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.

In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.

Some liberal Muslims, such as the members of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexuality as natural pointing out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love.

However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return refugees to a place where they would face persecution.

Full Article Pink News

Gays Demand China Free AIDS Advocate at Olympic Torch Protest:
A press conference was supposed to be held today at 11 AM at United Nations Plaza by Tibetans living in the US, to demand China end its occupation of their country. I went to it expecting 2 or 3 dozen Tibetans and their supporters would be standing behind a microphone tree, explaining what they hope to accomplish as the Olympic torch passes through town.

What I found when I got there was a full-fledged rally, held in front of a large elevated stage near the north end of the plaza, and perhaps five-hundred protesters waving flags, chanting slogans and handing out flyers.

I hooked up with five other gay men who were there to call for the release of Chinese AIDS advocate Hu Jia, sentenced to three years in jail last week for pro-democracy advocacy, and to add our voices to the “Free Tibet” chorus.

Here are two photos of us posing for the cameras:

I’m proud a handful of us gays were present today, and will be attending other pro-Tibet events today and tomorrow, as the Olympic torch wends its way through San Francisco. And big thanks to the other gays who showed up today in support of our Tibetan friends and incarcerated AIDS advocate Hu Jia.

By Michael Petelis :
http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2008/04/gays-demand-china-free-aids-advocate-at.html


Conservative MEP John Bowis made the following powerful speech in the European Parliament in favour of the successful resolution supporting Mehdi and Pegah Emambakhsh.


Bruxelles: The European Parliament has approved with 60 votes (46 in favour, 2 against and 12 abstentions) an urgent resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi – the 19-year-old Iranian gay – member of EveryOne Group – who is about to be extradited from Holland to the United Kingdom. He risked immediate deportation from London to Teheran, where the death sentence awaits him because of his homosexuality.

SEE ALSO :
https://gayswithoutborders.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/irqo-update-on-mehdi-kazemi-case/

Full text of the European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case:

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,

– having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,

– having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualifications Directive) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 on the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,

– having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was turned down,

– having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application turned down; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,

B. whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,

C. whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mehdi’s partner has already been executed, while his father has threatened him with death,

D. whereas in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh the UK authorities decided, after international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, but whereas it is still not clear what her fate will be,

E. whereas the UK Prime Minister’s spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, gave general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,

F. whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States as regards sexual orientation,

1. Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;

2. Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;

3. Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply European and national laws and procedures in a way which results in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;

4. Appeals to the Member states involved to find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;

5. Asks EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations, in the future, through cooperation and EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and evaluate the application of EU asylum law in Member States, and in particular as regards sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;

6. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.

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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:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/
(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

mehdidemo.jpg

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:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157604215757814/

Professional photos by photojournalist Marc Vallée can be viewed here:
http://www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog_mehdi_220308.html

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

http://www.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.blog.marcvallee.co.uk

http://www.archive.marcvallee.co.uk

ENDS

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U.S. invasion has made life worse for Iraqi LGBT community

BY MELISSA MEINZER

Iraq has never been a great place to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But since the U.S. invasion began five years ago, it has become much worse, according a gay Iraqi who fled to London two years ago.

“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country?” writes Ali Hili on his group’s blog, Iraqi LGBT (iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com). “Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorize women and gay people.”

The chaos and resulting power grabs have made Iraq an extremely dangerous place to be queer or gender variant. “Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005,” he writes.

So Hili formed Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to providing safe houses for LGBT people living in the war-torn nation. And the University of Pittsburgh’s LGBT group, the Rainbow Alliance, is hoping to help.

The group, which recently had to close three of its five houses because of financial constraints, provides safe group housing, food and medical care for LGBT people living in Iraq. Many of the residents it serves need medical treatment for HIV or gender transitioning.

“With strong social and political oppression against homosexuals and specific targeting by Islamic militia groups, LGBT Iraqis face abduction and death in the streets,” says Sean Casey, director of the Global Equality Network for Heartland Alliance. A Chicago-based nonprofit human-rights organization, Heartland Alliance handles U.S. fund-raising for the group.

Aaron Arnold, the president of Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance, interned with Casey last summer and learned about Iraqi LGBT through him.

“We’d done some international issues before; we figured our membership would be pretty interested,” says Arnold, a junior majoring in sociology with certificates in African studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. The student group is collecting funds and plans to match students’ donations with money from its own coffers. Next week is Pride Week at the university, so Rainbow will be staffing a fund-raising table on campus and hopes to collect money then. (To donate without visiting campus, click the donation button on iraqilglbtuk.blogspot.com.)

Some students, says Arnold, have objected to their fund-raising efforts, but he thinks it’s because they’re misinformed about what the group seeks to do.

“I think a lot of people on the surface hear that we’re trying to support LGBT people in Iraq and [think] that it’s antiwar or not patriotic,” he says. “We’re just trying to emphasize that these are human beings that were leading relatively normal lives until the infrastructure of their country collapsed. It’s not a statement about war; it’s a statement about humanity.”

Galloway’s Iranian propaganda?

FULL TEXT HERE

The Respect MP has turned on supporters of gay rights in Iran and falsely accused us of war-mongering

By Peter Tatchell

The Guardian – Comment Is Free – 26 March 2008

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/peter_tatchell/2008/03/galloways_iranian_propaganda.html

Left-wing Respect MP George Galloway has been accused of making allegations that border on paedophile smears and play to homophobic prejudice. He claims that the boyfriend of gay Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi was executed for “committing sex crimes against young men.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-life-or-death-decision-792058.html

The insinuation of such a claim is that Mehdi’s boyfriend was a rapist or a child sex abuser. It also stigmatises Medhi with the shame that he was the partner of someone who committed sexual assaults on male youths. He may now suffer with this stigma when he is returned to the UK and could face considerable personal hostility from people who have heard and believe these allegations against his boyfriend. Mr Galloway made his astonishing allegation on The Wright Stuff programme on Channel 5 television.

At the anti-war protest in London on 15 March, which I supported and attended, Mr Galloway repeated these claims in his keynote speech. He said the “khaki war machine now has its pink contingent.” He went on to imply that people who support gay rights in Iran are “useful idiots” and said their aim is to “bamboozle the public to go along with mass murder in Iran.”

It is untrue and deeply offensive to suggest that those of us who oppose homophobic persecution in Iran are backing the bombing and invasion of Iran. We are not. I am on record in my writings and speeches as opposing an attack on Iran. When, for example, I exposed Tehran’s racist and neo-colonial persecution of its Ahwazi Arab ethnic minority, I stated categorically: “I am part of a new campaign group, Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI).

http://www.hopoi.org/

“HOPI opposes both a US war on Iran and the tyranny of the Iranian regime. My motto is: Neither Washington nor Tehran! “A war against Iran would be another disastrous neo-imperial adventure, which would strengthen the Tehran dictatorship. President Ahmadinejad would play the patriot and manipulate nationalism to rally the population behind him. He would use a US military attack as an excuse to further crack down on dissent in the name of safeguarding national security. “The overthrow of the theocratic police state by the Iranian people – not by US military intervention – is the best way to resolve the nuclear crisis and prevent a needless, unjustified war. With no dictatorship in Tehran, President Bush and the neo cons would lose the rationale for a military strike against Iran.”

FULL TEXT HERE

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Nepal: Kathmandu, Third Sex Launches Election Campaign in East Nepal

Kathmandu: Sexual minorities of an eastern Nepal town, Itahari kicked off their first election rally wearing colourful dresses and playing music bands to canvass for three gay candidates.

Dipak Rai and Shrawan Chaudhari, both gay, are contesting the election under the banner of Nepal Communist Party (United) and while the third, Suryanarayan Chaudhari is contesting as an independent candidate.

The campaign jointly organized by Blue Diamond Society and Human Welfare Society with a dancing group has helped in warming up election climate in the district, a participant said.

Hundreds of demonstrators participated in the rally carrying placard with the slogan “rights to sexual minorities,” “gay freedom” and “equal status to third sex in the constitution.”

The three candidates are representing some 4,000 lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-sexual communities residing in the district.

A landmark ruling of Nepal Supreme Court in favour of third sex, which includes lesbians, gays, bisexuals and intersexuals, in December last year granted them recognition and directed the government to promulgate a new act or amend the existing ones to ensure rights of the third sex.

Sunil Pant, Blue Diamond Society, an Organisation for Lesbians, Gays, Bixesuals and Transgenders in Nepal

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I have just received the following message from the association Panteras Rosa in Portugal.
For further information contact them at panteras.lisboa@gmail.com
Doug Ireland

Portugal:
Transphobia kills again: international call for action!

Two years after the brutal murder of Gisberta, in Oporto, another transsexual woman was murdered and her body placed in a rubble dumpster in the Lisbon area last month.

Other crimes followed, shocking the country. However, the surge of violence cannot hide neither the victims nor the nature of these crimes. This is the case of Luna, 42, partially deaf, of Brazilian origin, for many years resident and worker in Portugal, prostitute at Conde de Redondo area (in Lisbon).

Two years after Gisberta, transsexual people are still targets for hatred and violence based on prejudice and ignorance. The crime is under investigation and under justice secret, so we know very few about its circumstances or about its motivation; we hope the investigation undertaken by the Police can provide answers.

Nevertheless, we know that transphobia kills and that trans people are more prone to suffer violence than the majority. We know prostitution is often a job for those who have no other way of earning a living, and that it is hard
to have a gender different from the one your body suggests. We know prejudice and discrimination are pervasive, that ignorance feeds hatred and generates violence. We know the State, society, all of us, have responsibilities towards the deadly victims, and mainly towards all those other people in whose life the fight for survival coexists with fear and the risks that cause it.

Luna was born a woman although her body suggested otherwise; her body, masculine, didn’t fit her identity. She was being followed at Hospital de Santa Maria by the multidisciplinary team in charge of helping trans people change their bodies; she had projects, wishes and frustrations just like anyone else. She was dear to some people and maybe wished to go back to Brazil, where her family lives. Luna was a woman who fought against many obstacles and, according to newspapers, died victim of great violence, possibly fed by hatred, prejudice and ignorance. Her body was left in a dumpster, hidden by rubble and dust, as if it was garbage, as if her life had not been worth living.

Like all potential victims, trans people need forms of protection that guarantee equality of opportunities and the possibility of a dignified life.

Panteras Rosa Web Site

Pink News, 14th March 2008 14:25
Lucy Durnin

Gay activists have told PinkNews.co.uk that the government need to reconsider the cases of other gay asylum seekers following the reprieve of Iranian teenager Mehdi Kazemi’s.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced yesterday that in the light of “new circumstances” gay Iranian Mehdi Kazemi should have his case reconsidered upon his return from the Netherlands, where he fled when his first application was denied.

The 19-year old, who has lived in Britain since 2005, was facing deportation and possible execution in Iran, where homosexuality is illegal.

Although the decision has been met with support, gay activists have warned that there are many similar cases which are being overlooked by the government.

Omar Kuddus, a gay rights activist who campaigned for Kazemi’s case, told PinkNews.co.uk:

“The British government has for once done the right thing and given this young man a chance and hope for his future.

“There is no question of the fate awaiting Madhi if he is deported back to Iran – execution, just for being gay.

“Homosexuality is not accepted and the state kills and punishes those guilty of being gay.

“To say that homosexuals are safe as long as they are discreet and live their lives in private, is to say that Anne Frank was safe from the Nazis in World War Two as long as she hid in her attic, there is no difference.

“Homosexuality shall never be acceptable in Iran as long as the Ayatollahs and Sharia law is in place.

“I am grateful that Mehdi can now make his case and establish the true dangers awaiting him in Iran.”

The Home Office said last week that even though homosexuality is illegal in Iran and homosexuals do experience discrimination, it does not believe that homosexuals are routinely persecuted purely on the basis of their sexuality.

Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner and member of gay rights group OutRage! believes that there are dozens of other gay asylum seekers whose cases the government are refusing to review.

Mr Tatchell said:

“The review of this case is welcome, but there are still many more which need to be reconsidered, including Pegah Emambakhsh and many other individuals who are fleeing violently homophobic countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, Iraq, Zimbabwe and Palestine.

“The underlying problem is the government’s whole asylum system and the way it is rigged to fail as many applicants as possible, combined with the homophobic biases of the asylum process.

“Asylum staff and adjudicators are given no training on sexual orientation and there is no explicit official policy supporting the right of refugees to claim asylum on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

The growing public outcry over the issue prompted a response from the European Parliament and 60 MEPs signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Kazemi.

Liberal Democrat European justice spokeswoman Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP welcomed the change of heart by Jacqui Smith, but believes the decision should have been made sooner.

Baroness Ludford said: “This is a welcome move, even if it should have come voluntarily and without the need for so much pressure.

“We must not forget other gay Iranians fearing not only their liberty but their lives, such as Pegah Emambakhsh. They deserve justice too.”

Ms Ludford has written to the Home Secretary requesting a review of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who faces deportation after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.

Ms Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain in 2005 after her girlfriend was sentenced to the death penalty, narrowly avoided deportation in August last year when her local MP Richard Caborn persuaded the government to allow her to stay while further avenues of appeal were explored.

Last month, however, the Court of Appeal turned down her application for permission for a full hearing and she now plans to apply for a judicial review at the High Court.