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One of Pride London’s major campaigns this year is ‘Love without Borders’. Danielle Carter spoke to a 23 year-old LGBT Iranian Asylum seeker who was to be sent home to his death.
His details have been changed to protect his anonymity. This is his story:
At school we were always taught that if a gay man was found in bed with another gay man that they would be hanged.
I knew that I was gay from a young age and I just had to pretend I was straight.
I came here to study at University in 2008 and everything was going ok. I went home in August back to Iran and I went on a date. The dating website in Iran is like Gaydar but it moves around a lot as the government keep on trying to shut it down. One night I was walking to where I was going to meet my date. I saw it was a different car to what other people have in Iran; I thought that it was a bit dodgy. The man I was meeting asked me my name I didn’t tell him and I left.
There is a gay scene in Iran but it is really dangerous. Police use these sites to have dates with gays and then arrest them. My best friend went on a date with a man that turned out to be a policeman; he drove him outside of Tehran and beat him to death.
My family know that I am gay, the penalties for being gay in Iran is being hanged. Usually for a man they hang you, for a lesbian they dig a pit, put you in it up to your arms naked, cover your head and then they remove the cover when you are in there, they give stones to the villagers and they are told they can secure their place in heaven by stoning the lesbian to death.
Then in October I got a call saying that my father had been arrested. They went to my house in Iran and searched my room and they said to him ‘Your son has done homosexual activity and has been a spy for the UK’. They took him to the Police station, when I heard I was shocked.
They said if you ask him to come back we will give him a big reward, he said nothing. I was worried as he has heart problems. I called him and he couldn’t stop crying.
I didn’t know what to do and my friends told me that I should go to Asylum which I did and in the first instance the Home Office rejected me.
There is a risk in seeking asylum and the risk is that you have to have an interpreter and a lot of them are deeply homophobic, which, happened in my case. They acknowledged that I was gay but told me that I wasn’t at risk and to go home and put my head down. In other words act straight. The information is always leaked back to Iran, The Home Office have to give the Iranian authorities a reason as to why I was being sent back and because I was already under the radar. They would have known that I tried to claim asylum under my LGBT status.
I went to a protest at the Iranian Embassy and I found out afterwards that there was a camera and we were all being videoed and they were matching our faces to our names to find out who we were; it is called video profiling. In Iran we have ID cards and it is easy to identify us.
I think there are about ten or 15 people every year that are executed for being gay but there are people being executed all the time.
It has been awful, Uni have given me a gap term. My mother passed away when I was ten and this has been worse than that. I go to bed every night thinking why should I die?
My appeal was eventually upheld and when it was my interpreter smashed his pen against the wall and left the room; that is how homophobic he was.
My experience of the Home Office was that they are very homophobic. The only thing that I am really sad about is that I am going to miss my family, especially my father; he is 62-years-old and my best friend.
I don’t know if I will ever be able to see my family again, I don’t want to put my family in further danger so at the moment we are just chatting on Skype. My father has always been in trouble because he is Jewish, my parents have always been accepting and supportive of me being gay but this is a rare thing in Iran and I think that I am very lucky.
I have no idea when I will be able to see them again. The bad thing about asylum is that they take all of your family’s details. My friend told me that if they wanted to come over here and see me on holiday they may check their details and say no because they will think that they will want asylum too.
The reason that I contacted Pride London was that my friends said that I needed help because I wasn’t coping. I got in touch with Patrick (Trustee and Head of Communities) at Pride London.
I went to a Pride meeting and they all wrote letters of support that I took to the Home Office, it meant a lot to me and made me feel safe that people cared. I think it definitely helped my appeal.
Dr Patrick Williams – ‘Love without Borders is about the Commonwealth but it also needs to be about LGBT people seeking a safe haven within the UK. This is a community that is actually here, we can’t ignore it. We have to support it. The Middle East is incredibly volatile when it comes to LGBT people we can’t just divorce ourselves from responsibility. ‘
Since this interview he has been granted asylum in the UK.
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