(AFP) – Mar 13, 2008
LONDON (AFP) — A gay Iranian man who says he faces death if forced to return to his home country was granted a temporary reprieve from deportation Thursday by British authorities.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, said the case of Mehdi Kazemi, 19, would be re-considered after "new circumstances" came to light.
Kazemi is currently in the Netherlands, where authorities on Tuesday rejected his appeal for asylum, and he is likely to be sent to Britain, where he lived from 2005 until last year.
Smith said: "Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi's case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands."
Kazemi came to London to study English but said he later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.
He applied for asylum in Britain last year, but when he was rejected he fled to the Netherlands.
Ben Summerskill, of the British-based gay rights group Stonewall, said: "We are obviously delighted that the home secretary has listened to the representations that were made in this case.
"There are overwhelming reasons why people should not be deported to Iran in the current circumstances, and it is important that Britain is seen as a safe haven."
EU lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Thursday called on Britain to look favourably on Kazemi's attempts to secure asylum, saying he would be executed if he was deported to Iran.
The Iranian authorities "routinely imprison, torture and execute homosexuals," the lawmakers said in a resolution.
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