Patricia Nell Warren

Iranian lesbian faces deportation and death

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | August 21, 2007 1:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement, The Movement
Tags: homophobic behavior, Iran, lesbian, Peter Tatchell

I just sent the following email to UK human-rights activist Peter Tatchell in support of last-ditch efforts to save this 40-year-old lesbian from being deported to Iran. If she is sent back, Pegan Emambakhsh faces certain death for her "offenses" against Islamic religion. The UK government continues its heartless and cruel policy of deporting many LGBT people who seek asylum there, in spite of the fact that these refugees have experienced persecution, terror and torture in their own countries.

I encourage other Bilerico Project contributors and readers to email Tatchell at in hopes of saving this woman's life. The UK needs to change its policy towards these brothers and sisters of ours who face challenges that most of us can't even imagine. Any American who watched the YouTube footage of recent hangings in Iran should feel a profound urgency to do what we can to stop these executions.

And by the way, we Americans need to pressure our own heartless government on this issue as well.

My message to Peter after the jump:

I've just read that you're involved in the last-ditch efforts to keep the UK government from deporting Pegah Emambakhsh back to certain execution in Iran. Hopefully it will help to have one more expression of support for her from the United States.

No country in the world today can deport any refugee back to the strict Islamic countries, where they face death sentences for any reason involving human rights, without a huge stain on their national honor. The United States has its own challenges in this regard, and its own stains.

But this time it's the UK whose history in this regard needs to be looked at. Example: In 1938-39, Britain stopped emigration of German Jewish refugees both to its own shores and to Palestine, even though the British government knew that the Nazis were formulating a policy of genocide. (Anybody who had read Mein Kampf closely would know what the Nazis were up to.)

I feel a close tie to Britain -- the Warrens were originally English. This makes it hard for me to understand these new expressions of inhumanity today -- why the UK government today seems to have not learned the horrible lessons of history, especially those involving Jews during World War II. Why does the UK continue to refuse to adopt a human-rights policy towards LGBT refugees from persecution in other countries, even though the country has gone far to humanize its own laws on same-sex relationships? This refusal is a stain on UK honor.

So I call on the UK government, and the British people, to give Pegah Emambakhsh the permanent asylum she needs. I also call on the UK government to establish a human-rights policy that grants asylum to other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered. I hope the UK will decide to make herself the leader on this issue, so that other countries calling themselves "democracies" will follow that example of democratic leadership that is so horribly needed right now.

In solidarity,
Patricia Nell Warren


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I just saw a post at PinkNews UK that says that the woman's deportation has been delayed. NOTE: Not stopped - delayed.

Each of us should be anguished and appalled.

Hi Patricia,
Met you in Palm Springs when you were running for office in West Hollywood.
I will e-mail Tachell, but will encourage him to speak out about the deportation in person, as I plan to see him next month in Scotland at the GALHA (Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) annual International convention. Hope we can do something to save a life.

Follow up
From GALHA blog www.galha.org
Thursday, August 23, 2007
URGENT ACTION - Stop UK deporting Iranian to her death!

The media has been full of debate and discussion about the deportation of a convicted killer to Italy. I don't want to get into that debate, except to note that the consequences for Learco Chindamo of deportation to Italy would be relatively inconsequential when compared to the probable fate of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian, about whom there hasn't been a single column inch in the mainstream media.

Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Her claim was rejected and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August 2007. She is scheduled for deportation to Iran on 27 August 2007.

If returned to Iran, she faces certain imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation - she was in a same-sex relationship.

Ms Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum, after her lover was arrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released but not before he had been tortured himself.

Ms Emambakhsh has a more than well founded fear of persecution if she is returned to Iran. She belongs to a group of people - gays and lesbians - who, it is well known, are severely persecuted in Iran.

According to Iranian human rights campaigners, many lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.

In 2006 a German court ruled that an Iranian lesbian could not be deported as she risked death because of her sexuality.

The UK Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) have chosen not to believe that she is in danger if returned to Iran, even though the UK government are well aware of the dangerous situation that gay people face there.

The BIA will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human rights violation if they insist on Ms Emambakhsh's deportation.

The Asylum Seeker Support Initiative in Sheffield are now getting Pegah new solicitors in order to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence and expert testimonies. A stay of deportation is needed to give Pegah time to prepare and submit this fresh claim.

Pegah's MP, Richard Caborn, has already won one stay of deportation and is working secure another postponement of deportation on 27 August.

You can help. Please write or email asap the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and to Pegah's British constituency MP, Richard Caborn (see details below).

Pegah Emambakhsh's Home Office reference number is: B1191057. This number must be quoted in any letter, so the Home Office can identify
and access her case.

Letters need to be sent TODAY by first class post to arrive tomorrow, Friday 24 August, at the latest. If you can't send a letter, a fax is a good alternative, and an email is certainly better than nothing. Mark all correspondence "For the persona attention of..."

Please write to:

Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home Secretary,
2, Marsham St,
London SW1P 4DF

Fax no: + 44 (0) 207 035 3262 or +44 (0) 207 035 2362
Email: smithjj@parliament.uk

Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP,
Sheffield Constituency Office
2nd Floor, Barkers Pool House
Burgess Street
Sheffield S1 2HF

Fax: + 44 (0) 114 275 3944
Email link for Richard Caborn

Please don't let Pegah be quietly deported to face torture or death. Our letters can make all the difference.

In related news, the Daily Mail has a story, with photos, of the public flogging of 25-year-old Saeed Ghanbari, convicted under Iran's 'morality laws' of drinking alcohol and having sex outside of marriage.

posted by Brett Lock @ 9:34 AM

GOOD NEWS
Politics

Italy: Govt. ready to give asylum to Iranian lesbian
Rome, 24 August (AKI) - Italy's is willing to offer political asylum to Iranian lesbian Pegah Imambakhsh, who in her native country could face death by stoning for publicly stating her sexuality, and 100 lashes because of her sexual orientation.

Italian equal opportunties minister Barbara Pollastrini has Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi's support over granting asylum to Imambakhsh, a ministry spokesman confirmed to Adnkronos International (AKI).

Britain, which is currently hosting Imambakhsh, is due on Tuesday to deport her to her native Iran.

In a letter to Italian NGO Annesdoor, the British Embassy in Rome wrote that the British authorities carefully evaluated the case of each asylum seeker and only repatriated individuals whose personal safety is not at risk in their home countries.

Imambakhsh's claim for asylum was rejected by the British authorities despite her appeals. She was arrested in the northern English city Sheffield earlier this month and is currently being held in a deportation centre outside London.

Protests in support of Imambakhsh organized by the Italian human rights group EveryOne will take place on Monday in front of the British Embassy in Rome.

Imambakhsh arrived in Britain in 2005 and sought asylum, having fled Iran after her same-sex partner was arrested and subsequently tortured and sentenced to death by stoning in 2005. The fate of her partner is unknown.

Imambakhsh's father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released after being tortured.