United Kingdom: Iraqi LGBT group leader Ali Hili refused priority for ayslum application

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.

Pink News has more background details in a comment piece by Paul Canning, gay rights activist and LGBT Asylum News webmaster, at this link. Canning says:

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”

Photo agency Demotix has a picture of Hili protesting in London here, displaying a simple link to his campaign: http://bit.ly/alihili.

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.


  • Thank you! Your support is really appreciated!

  • Cathy

    Without being insensitive, why should this case be processed ahead of another? A large number of cases will no doubt have very difficult and sensitive issues involved, with many wishing to be able to travel overseas. While this person clearly has a desire to make their case, the article still doesn’t point out why this situation requires priority – a need to travel surely does not go ahead of his claimed need for refugee status? I bet these cases are not straightforward and any case officer would need to do a high level of research on it.

  • Shereen

    Because whilst he is caught up in the asylum system which has taken 3 years before even classifying his application in priority, countless people that his organisation is committed to helping have lost out on awareness and support of their predicament from the international media and governance. Awareness means security for them, so the last three years whilst Ali has not been travelling have been three years when gay and lesbian Iraqis have had their rights violated with impunity.

    It also means the Fatwa is being made effective not by this man’s personal fear of reprisal, but by the UK Home Office’s inefficiency.

    This case is fairly straightforward: it’s about our government’s priorities. Quite literally.

    In deciding not to prioritise Hili’s case, it is deciding not to prioritise peaceful and civil missions to empower and protect LGBT Iraqis, and its effects taken more widely would suggest any other country with similar numbers of refugee applications.

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