Sunday, March 05, 2006

The tragedy that the Minister of Immigration of The Netherlands wants to deny

Iran Press News: Translation by Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi.
Dutch immigration minister Rita Verdonk plans to send Iranian homosexual asylum-seekers back to Iran after canceling a six-month stay, a letter to parliament made public on Friday revealed. READ MORE

The Netherlands had granted the reprieve for gay Iranians after reports that two homosexual teenagers were hanged in northeastern Iran in July last year.

Mrs. Verdonk, a former prison governor, said that contacts between Dutch diplomats and Iranian officials had established that the teenagers were not hanged because they were homosexual, but because they were found guilty of the abduction and rape of a minor.

In the letter Verdonk said that it was now clear "that there is no question of executions or death sentences based solely on the fact that a defendant is gay", adding that homosexuality was never the primary charge against people.

Iran's Islamic law imposes the death penalty for the offense of consensual sodomy, when the act is repeated and when the offender is judged to be an adult of sound mind.

Despite this law Verdonk said that research from the Dutch foreign ministry showed that "it is not completely impossible for gay men and women to function in Iranian society although it is important not to be to open about your sexual orientation".

The Dutch gay rights organization COC branded the minister's decision as "revolting". According to COC the minister based her decision too much on the explanations of Tehran and not enough on the actual situation on the ground.

Before actually starting to send people back Verdonk will discuss the matter with parliament, she said. The Dutch parliament is on holiday until Monday. No date has been set for the debate on Iran's gays.

Amnesty International, the rights group, says that 159 people were executed in Iran in 2004, the highest rate in the world after China.

Murder, rape, repeated sodomy, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, drug trafficking, adultery, prostitution, treason and espionage all carry the death penalty under Iran's strict Sharia law.