Saturday, October 21, 2006

Netherlands safe for Iranian homosexuals

After wrangling on for months on whether it is safe to deport two Iranian homosexuals back to Iran, the minister for Immigration and Integration FINALLY decided that it is not. She did this on the basis of a letter from Human Rights Watch, which stated that the Netherlands would be in breach of its international obligations should the Iranians be sent back. Back in February, Minister Verdonk ridiculously suggested that “simply keeping one’s sexuality covert and one’s selfhood hidden is a safe and acceptable response to the likelihood of persecution.”

What kind of persecution do homosexuals face in Iran?

Iran is distinguished by the overt severity of the penalties it imposes on consensual, adult homosexual conduct. “Sodomy” or lavat—consummated sexual activity between males, whether penetrative or not—is punishable by execution. (Article 111 of the Islamic Penal

Code states that “Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will.”) Tafkhiz (the rubbing together of thighs or buttocks or other forms of non-penetrative “foreplay” between men) is punishable by one hundred lashes for each partner, according to Articles 121 and122 of the Penal Code. Recidivism is punishable by death on the fourth conviction. In addition, Article 123 of the Penal Code further provides that “If two men who are not related by blood lie naked under the same cover without any necessity,” each one will receive ninety-nine lashes. Articles 127 to 134 stipulate that the punishment for sexual intercourse between women is one hundred lashes and if the offense is repeated three times, the punishment is execution.”

I don’t think anyone with a vague understanding of the Iranian regime and its stringent application of Sharia would doubt that sending back Iranian homosexuals is the same as a death sentence.

“As is well known, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 called for homosexuals to be extirpated as “parasites and corruptors of the nation” who “spread the stain of wickedness.” In a further sign of the general judicial attitude to homosexual conduct, Ayatollah Musavi-Ardebili, at the time the head of the Supreme Council of Judiciary, said in a sermon delivered in 1990 at Teheran University: “For homosexuals, men or women, Islam has prescribed the most severe punishments… Do you know how homosexuals are treated in Islam? After it has been prov[en] on the basis of Shari’ah, they should seize him [or her]…they should keep him standing, they should split him in two with a sword, they should either cut off his neck or they should split him from the head. He will fall down. They get what they deserve” (BBC Monitoring, May 21, 1990).”

A year ago two Iranian teens were hanged for being homosexual. Despite this, the minister earlier this year said there was no threat posed to people to be sent back to Iran. Because of this, the minister won herself a place in HRW's Hall of Shame. Under pressure from Parliament and the public he had to freeze the deportation order. It was feared that granting asylum on the grounds of homosexuality would flood the country with those who declare themselves to be gay overnight. COC, the largest holebi interest group in the Netherlands, says this is ridiculous:

“With this decision it is ridiculous to think that tomorrow dozens of Iranians [will stand] at the border with the claim of being gay. Many Dutch gays find it difficult enough to tell them surroundings that they are gay or lesbian. Let alone if you as a straight man come from a completely homophobic country like Iran and have to, through an interpreter from your own country, tell to a government official in the Netherlands with a straight face that you have feelings for people of the same sex.”

The minister decided that “homosexual asylum seekers who have to fear persecution or risk inhuman treatment at return, are eligible for a residence permit”.

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