Remember when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, in his speech at Columbia University, that there are no gay people in Iran? He insisted that they “don’t have that in Iran.” Anyone familiar with the human experience would find this statement ridiculous. Anyone familiar with Iran’s human rights’ record would recognize that this statement might be true–only because the legal penalty for male homosexuality in Iran is death.
But it appears that someone might almost take Ahmadinejad’s words at face value, after all. Take the case of Mehdi Kazemi. Kazemi came to London to study in 2004. His boyfriend was executed in Iran in 2006, after being forced to reveal Kazemi’s identity as his sexual partner. Fearing for his life if he returned home, Kazemi applied for asylum in the UK, but his application was turned down.
Incredibly, as reported in The Independent, “The Home Office’s own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians.” That currently there is no place for homosexuals in Iran is made clear by Iran’s policies and the views of its leaders: only a more benign regime will be prepared to accommodate basic human rights. What is more striking is that the victims of this kind of persecution may not, it seems, hope to find shelter in Europe. I guess the EU states are too busy giving asylum and shelter to hundreds of Islamic militants.