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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 17:12 GMT
Gay Iranian deportation reviewed
Two Iranian men about to be hanged for homosexual acts in 2005
Iran has regularly executed people it has convicted of homosexual acts
The home secretary is to review the case of Iranian homosexual teenager Mehdi Kazemi, who has said he will be executed if forced to return to Iran.

The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.

Mr Kazemi, 19, had failed to gain asylum in the Netherlands.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran and Mr Kazemi's boyfriend had named him as his partner before his own execution.

Ms 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."

Urgent meeting

Following the announcement of a review, the Liberal Democrat MP for Southwark and Bermondsey, Simon Hughes, pledged to support Mr Kazemi if he was returned to the UK.

"I hope Mr Kazemi will now come back to Britain where arrangements are already in place for an urgent meeting with him, his family, specialist lawyers and myself to prepare a new application to the Home Office," he said.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, said the group was "delighted" that the home secretary had "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," said Mr Summerskill.

Campaign cause

The teenager's case has become a campaign cause for gay rights activists across Europe.

More than 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran since the Ayatollahs seized power there in 1979, according to human rights campaigners from the country.

Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

Mr Kazemi fled to the Netherlands after the Home Office rejected his case late last year.



SEE ALSO
'How I escaped from torture in Iran'
16 Jul 07 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
Iran 'must stop youth executions'
28 Jul 05 |  Middle East

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