Monday, March 06, 2006


Not clever. From Regime Change Iran - "The tragedy that the Minister of Immigration of The Netherlands wants to deny". From a translation by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi of an Iran Press News story:
Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk plans to send Iranian homosexual asylum-seekers back to Iran after canceling a six-month stay, a letter to parliament made public on Friday revealed.

The Netherlands had granted the reprieve for gay Iranians after reports that two homosexual teenagers were hanged in northeastern Iran in July last year.

Mrs. Verdonk, a former prison governor, said that contacts between Dutch diplomats and Iranian officials had established that the teenagers were not hanged because they were homosexual, but because they were found guilty of the abduction and rape of a minor.
Well, here's the WikiNews entry for this story - make your own mind up.
In the letter Verdonk said that it was now clear "that there is no question of executions or death sentences based solely on the fact that a defendant is gay", adding that homosexuality was never the primary charge against people.
That's scant comfort to someone who is framed for a separate crime when their only offence is their sexuality.
Iran's Islamic law imposes the death penalty for the offense of consensual sodomy, when the act is repeated and when the offender is judged to be an adult of sound mind.

Despite this law Verdonk said that research from the Dutch foreign ministry showed that "it is not completely impossible for gay men and women to function in Iranian society although it is important not to be to open about your sexual orientation".

The Dutch gay rights organization COC branded the minister's decision as "revolting". According to COC the minister based her decision too much on the explanations of Tehran and not enough on the actual situation on the ground.
Another group that Rita Verdonk thinks ought to be capable of remaining in the closet are Iranian Christians. According to NIS News:
Christian asylum-seekers from Iran, including Muslims who have converted to Christianity, can also return to their country of origin, according to the minister. The House had actually asked her to suspend the deportations temporarily, but the VVD minister sees no reason for this based on the new report.

If Christians and converted ex-Muslims practice their faith "quietly," they should not have to expect any problems, according to Verdonk. Someone who tries to convert Muslims can however face repression and intimidation by the Iranian authorities. Muslim converts to Christianity sometimes receive threatening letters and phone calls, but they can "in principle function socially without problems," Verdonk claims.
Tell that to Hamid Pourmand, who got 3 years for his beliefs.


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