In a letter to the Dutch Lower House and State Secretary Klaas Dijkhoff (Asylum), COC Netherlands has made an appeal to grant homosexual asylum seekers from Iran the highest possible status.
The reason for this COC appeal is a letter by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and OutRight to the Dutch government. According to this human rights organisation, homosexuals in Iran are systematically persecuted, just like others who do not fit in with traditional gender norms. According to an official report by the Dutch government, there apparently is no systematic persecution. These official reports also determine whether the Netherlands will grant refugees asylum.
The human rights organisation points out mistakes in the official report. In 2014, the Dutch government saw a ‘slightly positive trend’ for homosexuals in Iran. HRW and OutRight point out that in 2013, a new article was added to Iranian law stating that even a kiss or embrace between two men or two women is punishable. On ‘sodomy’ there was already a death penalty in Iran.
According to the Dutch government, homosexuals in Iran ‘can move freely among society’ as long as they keep a ‘low profile’. This is ‘incorrect’ according to HRW and OutRight. The COC is of the opinion that it is unthinkable by definition that homosexuals can move freely in a country that threatens them with the death penalty.
HRW and OutRight mention distressing examples of LGBT persecution in Iran. About 50 members of the Republican Guard interrupted a birthday party, arresting 17 men presumed homosexual. They were transported to a secret detention centre, where they were filmed and beaten naked, and were given the impression they were to be executed. In 2010, HRW already wrote that the ‘threat of execution is very real for the vulnerable LGBT community in Iran.’
In the Netherlands since 2006, homosexuals from Iran were always granted asylum because of the dangerous situation in the country. Since January 2014, the individual story of the asylum seeker now determines whether an Iranian LGBT will be granted asylum in the Netherlands or will be sent back. According to the Dutch government, systematic persecution is no longer relevant, an assumption that proves to be incorrect. The COC argues to reinstate the guaranteed asylum for Iranian asylum seekers in the Netherlands.
'Safe' Countries not Safe
In a letter, the COC also objects to the State Secretary's list of so-called ‘safe countries of origins’. Dijkhoff is considering putting countries such as Morocco and Jamaica on this list, making it possible to quickly reject asylum requests from these countries.
The COC points out that often, these ‘safe’ countries are not safe for homosexuals at all. In Morocco, for instance, homosexuals were recently arrested because of their sexual identity, and homosexuals on Jamaica are still persecuted in horrible ways. HRW for instance describes the murder of a young Jamaican transgender woman who was beaten, stabbed, shot and driven over by a car after people found out she was a transsexual.