The United Kingdom has been gripped in recent weeks by the stories of two gay teenagers who say they face persecution and even death in their home countries of Iran and Syria.
Though unrelated, the stories the two youths tell are eerily similar.
The Iranian, 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi, won a temporary reprieve last week when the British Home Secretary agreed to reconsider a deportation order, according to The Independent.
Kazemi had already lost one bid for asylum in Britain and had been rejected in the Netherlands as well.
He first came to Britain in 2005 as a student, and learned the following year that his boyfriend in Iran had been arrested and put to death for sodomy, the newspaper reported.
Fearing that he will meet the same fate if he returns home, Kazemi has been fighting for political asylum ever since.
In Scotland, Jojo Jako Yakob, also 19, says that in his home country he was arrested for political reasons, and that authorities beat and tortured him, and shot him in the arm.
According to The Scotsman, when his captors discovered Yakob’s sexual orientation, they beat him so badly he was put into a coma.
Upon his release from prison, Yakob fled to Scotland, where he was arrested for carrying a fake Belgian passport.
He now faces possible deportation back to Syria.
Gay rights activists condemned his plight, and The Scotsman itself took the unusual step of organizing an online petition to try to get the government to stay Yakob’s deportation.
— Will Crain/Newsdesk.org
“Death sentence: gay Syrian teenager facing deportation”
The Scotsman, March 16, 2008
“Victory for Kazemi as Home Secretary halts deportation to Iran”
The Independent, March 14, 2008