Gay Iranian teenager spared deportation

An Iranian teenager facing deportation and possible death in Iran has been granted a reprieve by the home secretary.

Jacqui Smith has said 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi’s case for asylum should be reconsidered.

It follows the intervention of more than 60 peers who wrote to the home secretary warning that he faced execution if deported to Iran.

Mr Kazemi’s former boyfriend has already been hanged after being arrested for sodomy.

His family feared his own life was in danger after learning in 2006 that Mr Kazemi was named by his former partner under interrogation.

Mr Kazemi arrived in Britain in 2005 but was denied asylum, even though homosexuality is a crime punishable by death in Iran.

Ms Smith said today: “Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands.”

Lord Woolf, Betty Boothroyd, Shirley Williams, Paddy Ashdown and David Steel were among the 63 peers that wrote to the home secretary calling for a reprieve.

The petition, organised by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Roberts, said: “We members of the House of Lords are deeply concerned at the possible execution of Mehdi Kazemi if he is refused asylum in the UK and is deported to Iran.

“His former partner has been executed there. We urge her Majesty’s government to show compassion and allow Mr Kazemi to have a safe haven in the UK.”