(AFP) – May 21, 2008
LONDON (AFP) — A gay Iranian who says he faces death if forced to return home has won a deportation battle and been granted asylum in Britain, officials said.
Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2005 but later said he had discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
British authorities refused his asylum application last year, as did Dutch authorities, but in March Britain agreed to reconsider the case after "new circumstances" came to light.
The UK Border Agency said Tuesday it had decided to grant him asylum.
"We keep cases under review where circumstances have changed and it has been decided that Mr. Kazemi should be granted leave to remain in the UK based on the particular facts of this case," said a spokesman.
"The UK Border Agency considers each case on its individual merits and will continue to provide refuge for those asylum seekers with a genuine need for protection," he added.
Liberal Democrat lawmaker Simon Hughes, who championed the Iranian's case, welcomed the decision.
"Like Mehdi and his family in Britain, I am delighted to hear of the Home Office decision to let him stay in this country. This is great news for a very decent man," he said.
"As I have argued over the last 18 months, the Home Office should not send gay and lesbian people back to countries where they will be at risk of persecution, torture or death."
EU lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg called on Britain in March to look favourably on Kazemi's attempts to secure asylum, saying he would be executed if he were deported to Iran.
The Iranian authorities "routinely imprison, torture and execute homosexuals," the lawmakers said in a resolution.
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