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Sweden refuses asylum to gay Iraqis

Published: 18 Aug 2009 13:41 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Aug 2009 13:41 GMT+02:00

According to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) gay men in Iraq run a high risk of being tortured or murdered by Iraqi militias.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) has now called on the Swedish government to halt all deportations to Iraq of people who have sought asylum on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

"We urge Sweden to investigate the possibility of evacuating homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people who are at risk of being subjected to 'sexual cleansing'," RFSL's chairperson Sören Juvas writes in a press release on Monday.

The HRW report, entitled "'They Want Us Exterminated': Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq,", details that Mahdi army militias are behind a campaign that began in the western Baghdad suburb of Sadr City and has now spread to cities across the country.

"A wide-reaching campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men...began in early 2009," the human rights group writes in a 67-page report published on Monday.

According to Amnesty International, cited by the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, 25 gay men have been murdered in Iraq so far this year.

According to Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) figures around 300 people apply for asylum in Sweden each year on the grounds of their homosexuality.

There are no official figures for how many are approved or denied but according to cases witnessed by RFSL's refugee administrator in Stockholm as many as a third may be refused, DN writes.

According to the 2005 Swedish Aliens Act a refugee is classified as an "alien" who "feels a well-founded fear of persecution on grounds of race, nationality, religious or political belief, or on grounds of gender, sexual orientation...or because of his or her fear is unwilling, to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country."

"It is unreasonable to blow your own trumpet with a law that should give protection but in practice is not used. Then it would be better if the government were honest and says that it does not consider it an important issue," Sören Juvas at RFSL says.

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Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

15:38 August 18, 2009 by Greg in Canada
This is a huge surprise. It seems that Sweden will take in almost anybody who calls themselves a refugee but now won't take in gays. Being gay in some Muslim countries could probably get your head chopped off. Gays in Muslim countries would be classified as genuine refugees since their lives are in danger. This seems very hypocritical since Sweden recently recognized gay marriage.
15:41 August 18, 2009 by hpunlimited
The gay Iraqies are needed in Iraq to make their country change its way. The gay Iraqies can only make this change by being there, making it happen. Going to Sweden wont change Iraq. Being gay clearly has nothing to do with Asylum. Asylum right are there so that you can temporarily escape to a neighboring country temporarily for later return when the war is over.
16:09 August 18, 2009 by mobings
In the name of God, I hereby surrender my ass for the land of Europe... :)
17:10 August 18, 2009 by magic1964
In Sweden they rather accept a barbed man and his wife dressed in Burqa along with with 8 kids.......
17:14 August 18, 2009 by Eye_Witness
@magic1964.. burqa is the best way to cover clumsy bodies and f**k face.
17:44 August 18, 2009 by apostolos1975
How does someone prove to be gay or lesbian? If the government accepts such an argument then we have a problem. I understand the threat to their lives for gay. lesbian, etc but without a mechanism to safeguard that only the ones trully in these category then all the asylum seekers would simply claim to belong to this category and then ... GAME OVER.
17:50 August 18, 2009 by benomax
While it is sad that homosexuals are tortured and killed in Iraq, I think human rights activists should come in and save them. Being a homoseuxal in the Islamic world is very difficult as the culture will never accept such act, the culture and religion is very strict on it.

The issue now is that, every one seeking to live in Sweden can claim any thing to be here, so it is the immigration experts that looks into each case and decide if it is genuine or not.

I think they should not be sent back if their life is in danger, while they are given a temporal stay in Sweden, human rights activist should come in and discuss with their government to see if they can be liberal about homosexuality in Iraq, otherwise if Sweden can accommodate them, then they should be allowed to live in Sweden.
18:08 August 18, 2009 by La Figaro
Apostolos175, well spoken. I'm not aware of any correct way of ascertaining one's sexual orientation so seeking asylum on sexual orientation can be quite tricky for the parties judging their case.

Most people seeking asylum have reasons & maybe bad stories with most claiming a threat to their lives. With the decline in the number of people granted asylum in Sweden, if gays & lesbians are granted asylum, further asylum seekers may tow the same homosexual line. Secxondly, it won't be fair to other asylum seekers as they probably also face imprisonment & even death.

Sadly, there is no easy way out of this one but if I'm to choose, I'd say Sweden, stick to your current policies for asylum seekers & make no exceptions
18:56 August 18, 2009 by byke
Weapons of (m) ass destruction ;)

On a side note, I cant see what what a gay iraqi would bring to sweden in terms of labour and future offspring (maybe a theatrical story? - that was a joke).

While a man or women's sexual orientation may be brought into question, is it not the act of homosexuality which judges and convicts them in places such as Iraq?

In the UK, it was illegal to bugger your girlfriend up until a few years ago.

The UK passed sentences on certain sexual practices and many have been incarcerated from buggery.

So the simple answer is, if homosexuality is illegal in Iraq then dont perform the act there. Same as dont try to enter the US army if you are not straight as they do not tolerate it and beat your ass to a pulp (off the records of course)
21:03 August 18, 2009 by Gwrhyr
Byke, that was an insensitive and idiotic post, don't even claim anything otherwise, becuase it will fall on deaf ears, at least as far as I'm concerned. It's easy to hold views like that when you're own proclivities don't go against arbitrary social rules in the society in which you find yourself.

This is a tough situation because of the possibility for people who aren't gay to claim to be gay to come to Sweden for economic purposes. But at the same time, the sheer horror of what's happening to gay Iraqis along with Swedish idealism in politics means that Sweden needs to look into this issue and be especially careful when investigating what's going on in each case where this issue comes up.
22:39 August 18, 2009 by Playmaker
this only goes to show you how violent and stupid the islamic laws are. death for a gay. but i thought muslims were the most peaceful people? lol
22:45 August 18, 2009 by Nemesis
The simple fact is gays are being killed in Iraq by the militias.

Instead of sending them back, why not execute them in a football stadium with the entire country watching. At least that way the goverment would be honest about it. Make no mistake, they are being sent back to be executed and the goverment knows it. Also some of the commmentators here can go and watch as judging by ther ecomments they would enjoy it.

If the Swedish govemrent deports gays, who will be killed, without doubt. Then the goverment needs to explain why it is bringing in so many Islamic extremists to Sweden, who want to go a lot farther than executing gays.

First it will be the gays and then which group will it be in the gradual importation of Sharia law.

Most of you commenting are men, you have little to worry about. Women like me do have a lot to worry about if that sort of ideology gets a strong hold here.
08:16 August 19, 2009 by hpunlimited
Respect and follow the laws of your country. Certain countries it is illegal to have sex with "man on man" "woman on woman" "man/woman on child" "man on animal" etc. It is all a sexual orientation which you do not have to live out. There are alot of things we would like to do that is illegal in society. It is clearly not a ground for asylum.
08:27 August 19, 2009 by byke
@ Gwrhyr

Dear Deaf ears,

I dont know if you understand the word "asylum seeker".

But generally it means they have left a country due to persecution.

So regardless if a person who is seeking sexual asylum or political asylum, it makes no difference as the result are the same.

Why should homo's be granted special rights over others based on the same dangers?
09:40 August 19, 2009 by this_aint_sparta
There are millions of gays in Pakistan, Afghanistan , Iran ..... and so on, But it is still a social stigma, so all those gay people tends to hide it or dont run around half naked in the streets shouting "I am gay hey I am gay" and nobody cares what two men are doing in private. People are living like that for centuries and govt. usualy keeps a blind eye on that. These two have only brought it up in public just to stay here.
10:10 August 19, 2009 by xky
why so many refugees in Sweden? why the refugees have so many kids? most of regufees have more then 5 kids in my city, they do not work and goverment give them money every month, hoo.....

Sweden will be a islam country
10:50 August 19, 2009 by mac_007
this is another kind of drama to get swedish pass after few years.

Sweden will be bacame one of the ISLAMIC country .... all the best all sweds
16:07 August 19, 2009 by Grippen
Seems that RFSL chairman is particularly bad at reasoning. If his proposition would passed:

a) Most of the Iraqis (and muslims in general) seeking asylum in Sweden would pretend to be homosexual and thus accepted.

b) Once in Sweden they would do same as home - abuse, beat and kill genuine local homosexuals.
16:20 August 19, 2009 by ooh456
As an immigrant to Sweden myself I think if you want to move to a new culture you should leave your own customs ( especially ridiculous and incompatible ones like religion or handgun ownership ) behind you. If you can't assimilate then go home and improve your own goddam country.
16:29 August 19, 2009 by Grippen
ooh456 - you are kidding right?

Christian religion has played a major role in building Swedish state. This great welfare country we are enjoying now was build by hardworking religious swedes.

And talking about hand guns - didn't you know that for example shooting clubs owners here can have handguns at home? Not even speaking about homeguard members, who are allowed to keep even automatic rifles at their homes.
16:42 August 19, 2009 by Kaethar
The problem as has already been mentioned is that you can't prove that someone is gay. What is recquired is evidence that you have been threatened because of your sexuality. Or else anyone could just come illegally into Sweden, say they're gay, and get to stay. And this obviously can't be the case. Sweden would grant asylum to someone though if they could prove they were in danger because they were gay.
21:01 August 19, 2009 by arsh07
I am too much wondered about gay and lesbians.Please any one explain about how human being becomes gay or lesbian.What's reason behind it.....
08:44 August 20, 2009 by Marc the Texan
If Iraqis who are gay want gay rights in their country, they need to stay there and fight for them. Gay rights didn't come free in the West either. Iraqi gays need to stay in Irag and spend the next 20 years fighting for their rights. That's how it happens in every country. If they just leave, the cycle never ends.

Seems like every unfortunate soul in the world thinks they are entitled to what Swedes have. Sweden isn't big enough. It takes generations of pain and suffering to create a society that Sweden has today. It doesn't come free and Sweden doesn't have the capacity to give it to anyone who wants it.
10:32 August 20, 2009 by soultraveler3
It's a nice and sometimes necessary thing to take in refugees from other countries.

Sweden is great about that, but Marc is 100% right. Sweden cannot afford to take in 100,000 refugees a year.

The quality of life in Sweden is slowly slipping away, there's less jobs, a bigger strain on the healthcare system and less money.

Alot of these problems are directly related to the fact that this country takes in so many people that have large families and can't support themselves.

The emphasis needs to be switched to improving these peoples' home countries. Unfortunately, this is something that the home countries need to do mostly for themselves.

There needs to be a fundamental change in how they view the world, women, life and politics if the people of those countries want to begin to have a life similar to that in Sweden.

A change that big requires action, determination and patience.
12:53 August 20, 2009 by jonathanjames61
all coments well understood,but what reamains strange is the west refuse to understand the muslim world,in the west religion is different from politics and people,but in the muslim world the people the religion the politics are in one basket,So if there are iraquies gay,why not tell us how they should be jurged under islam,so long they believe the religion plus every other thing.so let them go to iraq to defend themself,since they have gone againt natural proceess of ALLAH
15:52 August 20, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
The problem is ISLAM! Not the war! It is NOT needing to fight for gay rights back home! Go back to an islamic country and fight for your rights by claiming that islam is WRONG! You people are really ignorant! Right, go back and argue against islamic law. The GREAT news is that they will NOT kill you for being HOMO! Now they get to kill you for questioning islam (apostate)!

arsh07, how gay is created in 1000 char? Just understand that human sexuality is hardwired in the brain from BIRTH! Because it is hardwired! And contrary to apo1975, LaFig, Kaet, assertions that there is no test to prove it;

TEST for HOMOs - google "pheromone brain scan" - it is NOT a choice!

Male brain is NOT the same as the Female brain! The male homo's brain behaves like a straight female's brain! The Female homo's like the straight male!

Against god when in fact it is god that has created it?

Then the other fools that claim they can deny their own sexual needs therefore why can't the homos-LOL
16:35 August 20, 2009 by byke
Send the problem to America, they have set up the government and oversee the change over.
18:04 August 20, 2009 by svenskdod
OK, so the title is "Sweden refuses asylum to gay Iraqis" which would lead someone to believe that they are being sent home on the basis of them being gay......

Where as in the article, the RFSL is just asking the Swedish government to NOT deport anyone who is gay......

The comments here are once again off topic.....

Special treatment because you are gay....? Set up a camp like they have in Australia, then after the unrest, just send them home..... Simple and clean....
23:22 August 20, 2009 by DamnImmigrant
arsh07, how gay is created in 1000 char? Just understand that human sexuality is hardwired in the brain from BIRTH! Because it is hardwired! And contrary to apo1975, LaFig, Kaet, assertions that there is no test to prove it;

TEST for HOMOs - google "pheromone brain scan" - it is NOT a choice!

Male brain is NOT the same as the Female brain! The male homo's brain behaves like a straight female's brain! The Female homo's like the straight male!

Against god!?!? when in fact it is your god that has created it!!! ROTFL

Then the other fools that claim they can deny their own sexual needs therefore why can't the homos-LOL

Svenskdod's right, the title is too sensational. But YES special treatment for gays and APOSTATES - both executed if returned!

BUT DO THEY NEED to stay in Sweden????
16:18 August 24, 2009 by dixkix
It's a good start, but i'd rather see that they refuse asylum to all men and give asylum to pretty young girls only. Hetero of course. They should do the same here in Holland. Maybe we can in exchange export gays and ugly women to Iraq? In Iraq the sun is shining and the weather is bright, it should be appealing to them.
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