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Stop forcible return of gays to Iraq: Amnesty to UK

Report accuses UK, other countries, of breaking international rules

28 April 2010: An Amnesty International report has accused the UK, and several other countries, of breaking international rules.

The have blamed the UK and the other countries for forcibly returning "scores" of Iraqis to dangerous areas in their native country, even though women, ethnic minorities and gays — even those perceived to be gays — are most likely to be at risk of violence and persecution in the country.

Amnesty says gays in Iraq are living under a constant threat, with the Muslim clerics making frequent public statements condemning homosexuality.

The report has recommended stop to all forcible returns. These should be resumed only when the security situation in the country has stabilized, it says.

In 2009, the authorities in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK forcibly returned scores of Iraqis to unsafe parts of Iraq, such as central Iraq, in breach of UNHCR guidelines, the report says.

The issue of perils faced by the gays in some of the countries was only recently raised by Kiana Firouz. The 26-year-old gay actress from Iran is seeking residency in Britain, as she says her sexuality is considered illegal and immoral under Islamic law. Her petition against the decision has been signed by over 880 persons.

Already, the Home Office is facing allegations of discriminating against lesbian and gay asylum seekers. The amnesty report says the UK and several other European countries are, in fact, breaching the United Nations rules on returning vulnerable Iraqi asylum seekers.

The assertion assumes significance as more than 100 civilians died in the first week of April.

The report said despite the ongoing violence in Iraq, several European governments continue to forcibly return rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers to Iraq.

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