Ali Hili, the leader of an Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group, has been told his asylum application will not be prioritized by the UK government, even though the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recommends “favourable consideration” for such “at risk”groups of people.
Hili's application, which has been outstanding for for three years, prevents him from travelling and therefore, his supporters say, inhibits his efforts to raise the profile of Iraqi LGBT, a London-based group which started campaigning in 2003.
“Hili has received many requests to speak about the situation in Iraq internationally, including from US-based groups such as the Gay Liberation Network and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign, which he has been unable to pursue,” say campaigners.
“He desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world's attention to their plight,” Hili's solicitor wrote to the UK Border Agency in 2009.
Over 700 Iraqi LGBT people have been assassinated in the past six years, says Iraqi LGBT. Hili has been issued with a fatwa from inside Iraq.
It often shocks people to hear this but talk to Iraqi gays who've made it out and they'll tell you – life was better under Saddam.
In November 2009 the Gays Without Borders blog published this Iraqi LGBT account of the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq.
Using the internet as a means to track down new victims, militia members are now employing computer analysts to monitor traffic on gay dating and networking websites in the region. They work with internet café owners to single out people who frequent these sites and set up fake profiles in the attempt to lure them out.
Despite the reported risks, UKBA's latest response that refuses Hili a priority application says:
- the assistance given by Hili to the Foreign Office “does not count”
- the fatwa [issued on Hili] does not mean that Hili “falls within the classification of clear and immediate vulnerability”
- that the delay in deciding Hili's asylum case (since July 2007) “is not in itself an exceptional circumstance”
- his case is not “compelling”
Iraqi LGBT has some suggestions for UK citizens who wish to help appeal against Hili's case: for example, writing to the home secretary, the prime minister, and your local MP.
For those outside the UK the campaign suggests asking politicians and organisations to invite Hili to your country (something he wouldn't be able to do under the current restrictions) and publicizing the requests.
Meanwhile, supportive comments are gathering on the petition to the home office asking the UK government to expedite the case (with just under 600 names at the time of writing).
One signatory, Paul Allen, says:
Would you want to live any longer in a society that treats you, the person you are with fear, hatred and violence, an agenda pushed by religion?
Ron Addison adds simply:
Shame on you, Sort it out NOW.