Saturday, March 04, 2006

Verdonk to send gay Iranians home


AMSTERDAM – Immigration minister Rita Verdonk says gay asylum seekers from Iran should be sent back home. Six months ago she had refused to send them back because two gay Iranian men had been executed there.

Verdonk said in a letter to the Second Chamber that there was no question of anyone being executed or sentenced to death purely on the basis of their being gay, although she did concede that gay sex was punishable by death by Iranian interpretation of Islamic law.

Even so, gay asylum seekers should be returned, she said, based on information from the Foreign Office about the actual situation in Iran. The two gay men were executed not for their sexuality but because they had robbed, kidnapped and raped a minor.

The gay rights organization COC described Verdonk’s decision as "revolting" and based on incorrect information about the Iranian regime.

Verdonk says that asylum-seeking Iranian Christians who have converted from Islam, who also face strong societal disapproval, can also safely be sent back. D66 has requested a debate next week over Verdonk’s decision. The party is not convinced that the repatriation is as safe as she suggests.


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