The Netherlands Opens Doors To LGBT Iraqis Asylum Seekers

The Dutch government announced this week that gay Iraqis in the country could apply for asylum based on fear they’d be persecuted at home for their sexual orientation.

Gerd Leers, the country’s Minister for Immigration, Integration and Asylum Affairs, had already temporarily halted the deportation of gay Iraqis in June, following a report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The newannouncement formalizes the policy. Reports Radio Netherlands Worldwide:

Koen van Dijk of the Dutch gay rights organisation COC described the announcement as an important victory for Iraqis who had fled the country because of their sexual orientation.

According to van Dijk, Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world for gay people: “Research has shown that 750 people have been murdered for this reason since 2003. There are systematic campaigns. Organised militias publicly declare that they’re hunting down people who exhibit ‘deviant’ behaviour and should be killed according to Islamic law.”

Asylum seekers will still have to apply and prove their claim is valid—a sometimes difficult prospect for someone who has spent years hiding any trace of their homosexuality.