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Gay Iranian to be deported

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18:38 CEST+02:00
A gay Iranian is to be deported from Sweden back to his homeland, a migration court in Stockholm decided on Friday.

Gay rights group RFSL has condemned the decision, saying that the man could be executed on his return.

"They're choosing to send people back and just hope that things go well, and that they're not executed," said RFSL's chairman Sören Andersson to The Local.

The man had appealed a decision from the Swedish Board of Migration to deport him. He told the court that he had been harassed, assaulted and imprisoned because of his sexual orientation. He also said that he had been arrested by Iranian police and raped at the police station.

But the court said that the man faced no concrete and individual risk if he were to return to Iran.

The court referred to a 2005 report from the Swedish foreign ministry, which said that Islamic law as applied in Iran prescribed "terrible penalties" for homosexual acts. Men who are found to have had penetrative sex can face the death penalty.

But the report also said that most gay people in Iran managed to avoid danger by living "discrete and withdrawn" lives.

Sören Andersson said it was unreasonable for Sweden to demand that gay people live "hidden lives."

"We are very critical of the Foreign Ministry's reporting," he said.

He also pointed to a report from the United Nations' Philip Alston, in which he detailed a number of cases in which men were sentenced to death for "private, consensual sexual conduct."

Alston also described a Special Protection Division, which empowers police officers to conduct surveillance of citizens' private sexual behaviour.

"There's a certain cynicism in the foreign ministry, in the Migration Board and in courts - they don't care whether people live or die," said Andersson.

RFSL has also raised the case of a lesbian from Pakistan, who also faces deportation to her homeland. Andersson says she was raped by police with the aim of "rehabilitating" her.

Asked whether people claiming asylum due to persecution on the grounds of sexual orientation were treated less favourably than political asylum seekers, Andersson said he was "beginning to wonder whether that is the case."

"People who seek political asylum do seem to be seen as more important. This is hair-raising reasoning about sexual orientation."

The Iranian's legal representative, Lars Lundin, said he would probably appeal Friday's ruling.

"This case is of great interest on a point of principle, ad the new migration courts lack a body of precedents," he said.

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