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Mehdi Kazemi is a gay teenager from Iran. He sought sanctuary in Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for homosexuality. (The Independent, UK; see also Gay City News.)

In 2004, Kazemi's family sent him from Iran to London to study English. Kazemi left behind a boyfriend, Parham. They had begun dating at the age of fifteen, and became intimate some eight months later. Kazemi and Parham kept in touch through e-mail, but then Parham's e-mailing abruptly stopped. In March 2006, Kazemi learned that Parham had been arrested by the Iranian authorities and mentioned Kazemi's name. In April 2006, Kazemi learned that Parham had been executed.

Homosexuality remains a capital crime in Iran.

Kazemi sought asylum in the UK, but in late 2007 was refused. Desperate, he fled to Holland. The UK now is demanding that the Dutch government extradite Kazemi to the UK so that it can deport him to Iran.

An online petition for Mehdi Kazemi by Gay Asylum UK can be signed here.

The Independent reports on efforts to save Kazemi from deportation to Iran:

Mr Kazemi's future will now be decided by a Dutch appeal court, which will rule whether to grant him permission to apply for asylum in Holland, which offers special protection to gay Iranians, or whether he will be deported to Britain. His case has attracted support from leading gay rights groups across Europe who are campaigning to allow him to live in Britain.

A major legal problem is a European Union treaty, the Dublin Treaty, that compels EU members to return asylum-seekers to the first EU country in which they claimed asylum.

Gay City News believes that, if Kazemi is returned to the UK, he will be deported to Iran.  "Too many MPs have been given assurances by the Home Office" to that effect, according to Andy Harley, editor of UK Gay News.

In a letter to the British Government, Mr Kazemi has told the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith: "I wish to inform the Secretary of State that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me." He added: "I cannot stop my attraction towards men. This is something that I will have to live with the rest of my life. I was born with the feeling and cannot change this fact but it is unfortunate that I cannot express my feeling in Iran. If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like my former boyfriend."

The Independent reports further:

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, more than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. The last reported case of the death penalty imposed against a gay man was that of Makwan Moloudzadeh, 21, who was executed in December after being convicted for sodomy, or lavat, a capital offence under Iranian law.

In addition to signing the online petition, please, in a respectful manner, also contact the UK embassy in Washington, DC. A webmail form is available here. Or, you might call the Embassy's emergency telephone number: (202) 588 6500. The e-mail address for Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, MP, is  smithjj@parliament.uk.

Originally posted to another American on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 07:03 AM PST.

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