Gay Teenager: Iran Will Hang Me

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in Britain when his boyfriend was executed in Iran is battling authorities who want to return him to his home country.

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2005 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

Mr Kazemi was told by his father in Tehran that his boyfriend had been questioned about his sexual relationships before his execution in April 2006 and named him under interrogation.

Mr Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain, fearing for his life if he returned to Iran but his case was refused late last year. He fled Britain for the Netherlands, where he is now being detained.

He appeared before a Dutch court this week to fight his return to Britain, where he fears authorities will send him back to Iran.

In a letter to the British government, Mr Kazemi told Home Secretary Jacqui Smith: "I wish to inform the Secretary of State that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country.

"But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me."

Peter Tatchell of the gay rights campaign group Outrage, and one of Mr Kazemi's supporters, said a Dutch appeal court was expected to decide soon whether to grant him permission to apply for asylum in Holland or send him back to Britain.

Mr Tatchell said: "The Home Office decision to deport Mehdi back to Iran is shameful and reckless. If returned to Tehran, he will be at risk of imprisonment, torture and execution."

A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government did not comment on individual cases, but added: "The UK government is committed to providing protection for those individuals found to be genuinely in need, in accordance with our commitments under international law."