The United Kingdom’s feeling generous. Immigration officials there have granted two gay Iraqis, Ibaa and Haider, asylum. Though one would think a Western government would be inclined to protect gay Iraqis, who face sexual “cleansing” in the war torn nation, the UK originally denied their pleas.
In a letter dated June 20, 2006, the Home Office wrote:
You claim that you would be persecuted if you were to return to Iraq because you are a homosexual. However, homosexuality in Iraq does not form a social group within the terms of the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.
It wasn’t until gay activist group Outrage! and their allies pressed the matter than the government found its heart. Now the men are looking forward to living a life of peace. Haider’s already landed a medical job in Scotland, where he hopes to become a general practitioner. Of the asylum, Haider says:
When I heard that I had won my appeal, I cried. I was very, very happy. The terrible past was over. This is an opportunity to start my life all over again. I feel like a new person… To show my gratitude to this country for giving me protection, which I did not get in my own country, I will be a good citizen and make a positive contribution to society by serving my patients well and helping in the local community.
Two down, countless queers to go…