Death Sentence?

Finland To Gay Asylum Seeker Facing Iranian Death Squad: Okay, Maybe You Can Stay

Finland has joined its usually-progressive Nordic neighbors in trying to come to grips with the issue of whether or not to deport LGBT asylum seekers from far less tolerant countries.

The Finnish Supreme Administrative Court told the country’s Immigration Service this week that it must reconsider the case of an Iranian man who had been denied asylum and was slated for deportation.

The court urged immigration authorities to carefully scrutinize whether Iranians have sufficient grounds to fear sexual orientation-based persecution in their homeland.

The unnamed asylum applicant has told Finnish officials that Iranian authorities are well aware of his sexual orientation, and that since he has already been convicted in absentia in Iran for homosexuality, his name is on an government-issued wanted list. Should he return there, he believes he could face execution.

Last week Pentti Visanen, the head of the Migration Department of the Finnish Interior Ministry, said that Finland must take full responsibility when gay deportees are sent back to countries where they could be put to death. Finnish researchers have pinpointed ten cases between 2008 and 2010 where gay deportees may have faced harsh punishments upon returning to their native lands.

The head of the asylum unit of the Finnish Immigration Service, Esko Repo, said last year that despite the large number of LGBT-based asylum seekers in the country, sexual-orientation persecution has thus far rarely been considered an adequate reason for granting Finnish political asylum. Repo said that of the approximately four thousand asylum applicants in Finland in 2010, a “three digit number” applied on the grounds of likely maltreatment in their native lands due to sexual orientation.