Thursday, July 28, 2005

Iran "hunting more gay teens"

The Iranian government is apparently hunting more gay teens, after publicly executing two boys for having sex with each other last week.

According to campaigners, police officials are searching for three boys connected with the “crimes” of Mahmoud Asgari (16) and Ayaz Marhoni (18), who were hanged last week.

An international protest is being urged in response to the hangings, which were conducted in accordance with the ultra conservative Sharia law.

Campaigners across the globe are calling for more action to be taken against the Iranian government for its actions.

The boys being hunted are thought to have been named by the hanged boys under torture, the Outrage! group claims. They have since disappeared.

It is thought that Asgari and Marhoni were subjected to more than 200 lashings during their 14 months in prison and forced to confess to crimes they may have not committed.

They were also accused of raping a 13-year-old boy, although the majority of press reports have dismissed this charge as an attempt to avoid any censure from international governments or human rights bodies.

"This is just the latest barbarity by the Islamo-fascists in Iran,” Outrage! campaigner Peter Tatchell said today.

"The entire country is a gigantic prison, with Islamic rule sustained by detention without trial, torture and state-sanctioned murder.”

"According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. Altogether, an estimated 100,000 Iranians have been put to death over the last 26 years of clerical rule.”

A London protest has been organised next month outside the capital’s Iranian embassy.

The protest will take place on 11th August between 1-2pm. Those who cannot attend are being urged to email and phone the Iranian Ambassador.

Campaigners across the globe may well join the protest, after action was taken globally on the hangings.

In the UK, the government was criticised for attempting to forge closer links with the Iranian government, while in other European countries gay groups called for an update to asylum legislation regarding lesbian and gay people fleeing conservative regimes.

In the US, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was urged to publicly denounce the killings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Gay Palestinian wins asylum appeal in the UK

In one of the first judgements of its kind, a gay asylum seeker has won the right to make an appeal to remain in Britain.

The 34 year old Palestinian man who can only be identified as 'HC' lived in a refugee camp near Sidon, in Lebanon, but fled to Britain in 1998 after the video shop he worked in was blown up.

The man claimed that he was told by a fellow camp resident that the shop was blown up because of HC's homosexuality.

Outrage, the gay-human rights group led by Peter Tatchell, has long campaigned on the issue and joined the marchers at London's Gay Pride event in early July with placards including "Tony Blair deports gay asylum seekers. Shame!" and "Labour deports gays to face jail, torture and death".

During an asylum appeal in 2003, the adjudicator accepted some of the Palestinian man's claims but dismissed his plea to remain in Britain and the Immigration Appeal Tribunal refused HC the right to appeal.

During the appeal court hearing, Dr Alan George a Middle East specialist gave written evidence showing that homosexuality is condemned by both Lebanese and Palestinian society and gay men in particular were subject to serious abuse and discrimination.

Indeed, the Palestinian Authority is understood to reserve the death penalty for homosexuality although in the past, the most serious punishments metered out involve long prison sentences.

In Iran and Saudi Arabia, gay men are routinely stoned to death.

Lord Justice Keene, giving the ruling of the court, quashed the judgement of the Immigration Appeal Tribunal that denied the man the right to appeal his asylum decision.

The case will now be passed onto the newly formed Asylum and Immigration Tribunal for a rehearing.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Canada Warns Gay Couples to be Careful Traveling Abroad

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Department this week is warning same-sex married couples to be wary when traveling or moving to foreign countries which may not recognize the marriages and, in some cases, could even bar entry or enforce the country's death penalty for homosexual activity.

"As we welcome new legislation in Canada that extends access to civil marriage to same-sex couples, we must also acknowledge that many countries still do not permit such marriages," said Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew in a statement released over the weekend.
Regulations on same-sex marriages vary widely from country to country, warned the Foreign Affairs release. Attempting to enter a country as a couple, it said, could result in refusal by officials.

"Whether visiting or moving to another country, Canadians should always take the time to learn about the laws of the country for which they are destined before leaving home," said the official statement.

Bill C-38, which provides equal access to civil marriages for gay and heterosexual couples, brings Canada in line with Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium, the only other countries with similar laws.

Canadian same-sex married couples should be careful to abide by the laws of the countries they visit, said Cloe Rodrigue, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman.

"The attitude that they would receive at the border really depends. What we tell people is really to respect the law of the other countries."

The department says homosexual activity is a criminal offense in some countries, and "those convicted may be sentenced to a prison term, a fine, a lashing, deportation or death."

On July 19, two gay teenagers were executed in Northern Iran, accused of engaging in homosexual activity. Prior to the boys' executions, the teenagers were reported to have been held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes.

According to the International Gay and Lesbian Association, Iran is one of at least seven countries today which still retain capital punishment for homosexuality. Others include Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. The situation with regard to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is unclear.

Amnesty International adds that homosexual activity is also illegal in countries such as Grenada, India, Trinidad, and Jamaica.

Some countries could refuse a same-sex married couple's visa. But they may allow them to enter as individuals.

The Foreign Affairs department advises same-sex married couples to look up international reports on to view a country's laws, and to check back periodically for updates.