Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Being a gay Iranian

Mehdi Kazemi, a 19 year old boy from Iran was granted a visa to pursue his studies in the UK in 2004. Some time later he received news that the Iranian authorities had arrested a male friend of his who had claimed to be in a relationship with Mehdi. Mehdi, afraid to return to Iran, filed for asylum in the UK. When his claim was refused by the home office, Mehdi fled to the Netherlands afraid of the consequences he would face in Iran for the 'crime' of being gay. He is presently held by the police in Rotterdam and is under suicide watch. Recently when the Iranian President was in the US, he claimed that there were no gays in Iran. In a country where being gay is so openly condemned, Mehdi most likely faces the fear of persecution. He is scheduled to be returned to the UK and could face deportation. Should not a 19 year old boy be granted asylum when his life is so obviously in danger on return to his country? And on a larger scale should not something be done about the Iranian government that persecutes the homosexual community in Iran due to their sexual orientation?

8 comments:

ashley said...

While I think it is terrible that authorities in Iran have made homosexuality illegal, I don't know that any other country should have the authority to change this practice. In addition to the problem of national sovereignty, many other countries, including the US, are not much better with their treatment of homosexuality. The US doesn't make homosexuality officially illegal, but there are certainly enough disadvantages and hostilities against this group of people that would make anyone hesistant to be openly gay. I suppose one of the main points to take away from a situation such as this one is the fact that laws can be controlled but cultures cannot. Even if Iran were somehow forced or persuaded to change its laws regarding homosexuality, societal attitudes and stereotypes probably will not change any time soon.

MadMax said...

In some Muslim countries being a Christian carries a death penalty. Or in many areas being of a certain ethnic minority carries at least an implicit threat to life. How many adulterous or sinful women have been executed? How many non-believers? Or how many who just refused to be exploited?

My point is that protection from state power in every instance cannot mean removal from the state. If so - tell me - why are we limiting this call for asylum to one persecuted minority - why not all. Also, people can hide their sexual orientation and live out their lives as normal productive citizens. It is not necessary for them to be outwardly gay and consequently there would be no need for asylum. If this reasoning is good enough to be used by our military it’s good enough for Mehdi.

Nikki M said...

I am inclined to disagree that homosexuality can be "hidden" and that its unnecessary for someone to be outwardly gay therefore there isn't a legitimate claim for asylum. One of the five unnumerated grounds for asylum is membership in a social group and the courts have recognized homosexuals as a particular social group (see Matter of Toboso-Alfonso)since 1994. For some individuals, their sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic and inherent to their identity, therefore making them completely deserving of asylum if this puts them at risk of persecution.

MadMax said...

Yeah, whatever Nikki M.

Granting asylum based on being a homosexual is a mistake that the courts have made. A particular social group would include people who have common characteristics. What commonality do homosexuals and lesbians have? The only one that comes to my mind is that they choose to live outside of the norms of nature.

If they want to be treated as normal, they should act normal in society, and not make themselves a "target" for those who also know that homosexuality is wrong, abhorrent, and a sin they do not want in their community.

I know there are lots of gays living with their choice to sin, and people never presume they are gay. That's the way it should be. People shouldn't know. Ten percent of the population in this great country chooses to be gay. That means one out of every ten people you know are deviant. Look around you. Do you personally know that many gays? I think not. That’s because the ones who are not openly gay know they are abnormal and have made a conscious effort to hide it.

Dr. D said...

MadMax,
I find myself needing to respond to your comments. True, there are many different ways that people are persecuted by their country -- and that is why the Refugee convention was established. If choice or "hiding" your identity -- homosexual in this particular case is the basis for your argument -- then I guess we shouldn't provide protection from persecution based on people's religions or political opinion either? They can hide it or chose to be another religion, can't they?
While we're at it, do you really think that U.S military's policy on gays in the military is appropriate? It's okay for gays serving in the military to die for our country -- but God forbid if they reveal their sexual orientation!

MadMax said...

Nice try Dr. D. but a person’s religious choice or his/her political opinion are not typically subjects of morality.

I was born in 1963. I was raised in a culture that just assumed, HOMOSEXUALITY IS WRONG. I have learned nothing in the last 45 + years to contradict that basic belief, which, if anything, has only been reinforced. I do not understand why otherwise sane people, like yourself, cannot see that endorsing such deviant behavior is destructive to our entire societal structure.

I don't care if it's genetically disposed, or a choice, or somewhere in between. It's a sin, as delineated in several places in the Bible. Therefore, someone who chooses to sin is immoral, and that goes against my personal values.

As for gays in the military……..you have to be straight to shoot straight! Enough said.

Nikki M said...

MadMax - Perhaps you aren't the worldly person I thought you were if you really believe people's RELIGION is not at the center of arguments on morality.

The fact that you are willing to accept the persecution of others based upon something you yourself admit is an assumption and say that you have learned nothing to contradict this assumption in the past 45 YEARS is a testament to the sad state of your intellectual development.

You mention the Bible. Read a little closer and maybe you'll realize you don't get to ultimately judge someone for their sins - that's God's job. The law of this land is based on the Constitution of the United States (which affirms the seperation of church and state in case you forgot) and other conventions and amendments we sign into law. So until this ceases to be the case, the courts have ruled in appropriate fashion in regards to homosexuals receiving status as a particular social group.

MadMax said...

Wow Nikki, you certainly have challenged my cerebral development. Although I applaud the effort I in no agree with your insinuations with regards to my acceptance of the persecution of gays, or with your inept dissection of the Constitution.

Please allow me to restate what I have written. I do not believe that gay people represent a separate “social group”, and therefore should not be granted asylum on those basis. I however, do not want to see their persecution. I believe that what goes on behind closed doors between two consenting adults is between them and their maker. Hate the sin but love the sinner. I also feel that if they live in a country where this type of deviant behavior is not condoned they should not advertise their sexual preference. Here’s a few tips….don’t fly the rainbow flag in front of your house! No rainbow bumper stickers. Guys don’t wear pink or listen to Bette Midler. Girls don’ wear a mullet unless you’re from Canada. Capiche?

Oh and by the way the phrase "separation of church and state" does not appear anywhere in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the first ammendment erected a “wall of seperation” between the church and the state (James Madison said it "drew a line," but it is Jefferson's term that sticks with us today). The phrase is commonly thought to mean that the government should not establish, support, or otherwise involve itself in any religion. Don’t believe me Nikki, check it out.