|Iran lesbian wins stay over deportation from UK
August 26, 2007
LONDON -- A gay woman who is facing deportation from Britain to her native Iran has had her removal deferred, pending a legal challenge, her supporters said Saturday.
Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, was arrested in Sheffield, northern England, earlier this month, after being refused asylum following her arrival here in 2005. She is being held in a detention center, and had been due to be deported Monday.
Her supporters, including the prominent British gay lobby group OutRage!, and organizations helping failed asylum seekers, say that she faces jail, corporal punishment, and possibly even stoning to death if she returns.
Paul Snell, a retired medical doctor who volunteers for the asylum support network charity Assist in Sheffield, said: "As I understand it, her deportation was due to have happened nine days ago, but it has been deferred.
"But it is, by no means, canceled. The issue is being taken up legally."
He added: "It's clear that her human rights would be breached were she to be deported to Iran."
A spokesman for Britain's Home Office said they did not comment on individual cases, but added: "Cases are considered by trained professionals based on all the available evidence."
A briefing document by gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, based on information from Assist, said Emambakhsh escaped from Iran and claimed asylum after her lover was arrested, tortured, and then sentenced to death by stoning.
Her father was also arrested and questioned as to her whereabouts. He was released, but was also tortured, he added.
"Ms. Emambakhsh has a more than [a] well-founded fear of persecution if she is returned to Iran. She belongs to a group of people - gays and lesbians - who, it is well known, are severely persecuted in Iran," Tatchell wrote.
"The UK Border and Immigration Agency [BIA] have chosen not to believe that she is in danger if returned to Iran, even though the UK government are well aware of the dangerous situation that gay people face there.
"The BIA will be committing a serious miscarriage of justice and a gross human right violation if they insist on Ms. Emambakhsh's deportation."