Gay Iranian teen Mehdi Kazemi was denied political asylum by the Netherlands on Tuesday and now worries he will be deported to Britain and eventually returned to his homeland. Kazemi, 19, was a student on a visa in England, and after his bid for asylum was rejected there, he fled to the Netherlands.
Kazemi fears for his life because, according to CNN, his boyfriend was executed in Iran after disclosing he was in a relationship with Kazemi.
The story, unfortunately, is not a new one.
In April 2006, "The Advocate Newsmagazine" (a public-affairs program on MTV's Logo network) reported that more than 80 countries criminalize homosexuality, with some nations calling for the death penalty.
Like Kazemi, Wissam Abyad of Egypt found his beliefs at odds with his country's.
Abyad was surfing the Web when he came across a post from a foreigner on a chat forum looking for a gay tour guide. Abyad responded and agreed to meet the poster in a local McDonald's. When he got there, however, he was arrested by police who had posed as the Internet poster. Abyad was charged with debauchery, since homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt. He was then sentenced to 15 months in prison.
"I always said I was an accidental activist, because this made me really angry that this was happening to my friend and then to my boyfriend," Abyad's boyfriend, Derek Reynolds, told "The Advocate Newsmagazine" in April 2006.
Abyad, with the help of Reynolds and a legal team, was released early and ultimately secured asylum in the U.S.
The key in his case, and in most cases, was to prove he was being persecuted for his beliefs. In 1994, then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno allowed a Cuban refugee to take asylum in America on the grounds he was being mistreated due to his sexual orientation. The case became the benchmark and set the precedent for all similar situations.
For Kazemi, his bid was rejected in Britain on the grounds that homosexuals in Iran are not routinely persecuted. Britain's Home Office noted that homosexuality is an illegal offence in Iran but did not think Kazemi would be victimized because of his beliefs.
According to CNN, for Kazemi's appeal in the Netherlands to be accepted, he had to prove British officials did not properly handle his application for asylum.
Lawyers for Kazemi can now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights to allow their client the right to stay in Europe temporarily under an interim measure request.