On Thursday, The Independent newspaper ran a story about a gay Iranian teenager, Medhi Kazemi, whom Britain refused to grant asylum to despite the fact that if he is sent home he will probably be executed. (link.) Obviously, if this is the case, it is terrible that Britain would allow such injustice.
But I want to talk about Britain's policy on these matters. According to the Independent again:
"The Home Office's own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians." (see link above) and "In turning down Ms Emambakhsh [another similar case] and Mr Kazemi's asylum applications, the Home Office has said that, provided Iranians are discreet about their homosexuality, they will not be persecuted." (link)
That's absolutely awful, in my opinion. Translation: "Why can't you homos get back in the closet where you belong?!" I mean, are the Home Office incapable of understanding that homosexual people need love, intimacy and sex the same as everybody else or something? Very few people are able to remain completely celibate. This dictum has been proven again and again for gay people both throughout history and in the modern world, in the Middle East and in The West. Obviously, if gay people did not have this need, no-one would have gay sex in Iran in the first place due to the harsh punishments for it. And the social stigma and threat to their careers was not enough to deter neither Ted Haggard, nor Larry Craig, nor Bob Allen. I'm pretty sure forcing us to suppress this harmless part of our being counts as persecution in itself. Love and intimacy are supposed to be one of the most wonderful things that human beings can feel, to deny that to parts of the population for no reason other than disgust or religious dogma is a cruel punishment.
I think something needs to be done about these kinds of things that happen in other countries. We cannot just ignore it and say it's not our business because it's not our country. In a way, it is xenophobic to be isolationist - "you were born X in country Y, deal with your lot!". I appreciate that this is going to be difficult to achieve, but we have no other choice but to try. Unfortunatly, I have very few ideas about how we can make this work. I would rather avoid going to war for obvious reasons as well as the fact that forcing democracy on a country that doesn't appear to want it is going to end in either a religious fundamentalist being elected or somebody overthrowing the Constitution(more on this later in a post coming soon). "Liberating" Iraq didn't work and neither will this. Dialogue is always worth trying, but I cannot see them listening to us, especially as they are Islamic radicals who believe non-Muslims are the enemies of God. The only ideas I have are to impose sanctions on the countr(ies) responsible, or refusing to trade with them. Obviously, these will have their own implications that will need considering. Of course, even if we did get Iran and other countries like it to change their laws, we'd still have a big problem with people carrying out their own justice(particularly regarding anything like "honour" killings) and the government turing a blind eye to it because they agree with what they are doing. I fear it may be hopeless. Maybe someone else has some good ideas as to how to deal with this?