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Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter

AN IRANIAN man has launched a legal fight to stay in Birmingham because he faces execution in his home country - for being gay.

He was forced to flee Iran, with the help of his mother, after being caught in a compromising position with another man, an Immigration and Asylum Tribunal heard last week.

Mrs Maninder Chaggar, representing the man, who the press has been banned from naming, said: "His own father reported him to the police.

"Fortunately, his mother gave him money and managed to get him to the UK."

Last year, Iran executed two gay men accused of "perversion", although public flogging is the most common punishment, with the sentence ranging from 74 to 100 lashes.

The tribunal heard that the Iranian seeking to stay here moved to the UK 12 months ago and has become integrated in Birmingham society.

But his asylum application has been opposed by the Home Office.

Tribunal judge Kay Phull ruled his identity could not be published because of fears that the Iranian authorities - and the man's own family - might track him down.

His sexuality came to light after he was caught by his father with another man in a downstairs room of the family's home.

He was forced to flee through an open window.

"The appellant admits he is homosexual," Mrs Chagger told the tribunal. "His profile became public in Iran when his father walked into his room, and found him in a sexual situation with another man."

A decision over whether to let the man stay here will be made at a later date.

In Iran, homosexuality merits the death penalty if an individual has already been flogged three times.

One victim, referred to only as Amir, bravely spoke out following a government internet entrapment operation - and received 100 lashes as a result.

"I passed out before the 100 lashes were over," said the 22-year-old. "When I woke up, my arms and legs were so numb that I fell over when they picked me up from the platform on which I'd been lashed.

"They had told me that if I screamed, they would beat me even harder. I was biting my arms so hard, to keep from screaming, that I left deep teeth wounds."

Flogging, itself, can condemn those brutally punished to an agonising death. Individuals can suffer organ damage and internal bleeding.

In 2012, pressure group Small Media published an in-depth study of the perils facing the LGBT community in Iran.

The dossier states: "The bastions of the Islamic Republic of Iran fully realise that an established (albeit secretive) LGBT community exists beneath the folds of fundamentalism in the country. But, figuratively speaking, the Iranian government is doing its utmost to sweep the community under a densely woven Persian rug."

Until recently, homosexuality was routinely punished by death. Following amendments to the Iranian penal code, the person who played "an active role" will receive 100 lashes, providing he is not married. His partner can still be put to death.

For women, the sentence is 100 lashes.

The government, however, denies an LGBT community even exists. In a 2007 New York speech, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like you do in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have!" Transsexuality was legalised in Iran in 1987, with the state supporting sex change operations.

But the Small Media report found: "The social stigma attached to transsexualism is unwavering and transphobic abuse remains prevalent. Still very much ostracised, transsexual Iranians do not enjoy a privileged status in society."
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jun 14, 2015
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