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London: Iranian Refugee's Life Hangs in the Balance

Compiled By GayToday

persiagay.jpg - 8.22 KMherdad Jawwdat, a gay refugee from Iran, where openly gay men and women are tortured and executed, has become a test case to be heard in London's High Court. "Shouldn't this young man be granted asylum?" his lawyers ask. The answer will be yes only if homosexuals are to be recognized by London's High Court as a "social group."

Prior to the filing of his test case, The United Kingdom's Immigration Appeal Tribunal ruled that Jawwdat should be refused asylum and returned to Iran. His legal defenders argue he should be granted asylum under the provisions of the Geneva Convention on Refugees. These provisions state that persons with reason to fear persecution in their home territories because "of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion" should be given refuge.

Charles Bennett, a special immigration adjudicator, absolved the Immigration Appeal Tribunal of any responsibility for Jawwdat's life, by finding that the term "social group" does not apply to homosexuals.

Bennett also said he saw no reason why Jawwdat should not go back to Teheran so long as he behaved in a circumspect manner.

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Mark Henderson, Jawwdat's attorney, has made clear for the judicial review that punishments for homosexuality in theocratic Iran include four torturous methods: being buried alive, hanged, halved with a sword, or stoned.

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