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Iraq: Homophobia

Volume 476: debated on Monday 19 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received of the level of violence and persecution aimed at gay men in (a) Iraq and (b) Iran. (204334)

We have serious concerns about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran and Iraq.

We are particularly concerned that homosexual activities are illegal and can carry the death penalty in Iran although we have not been able to confirm any executions that have taken place solely on the grounds of homosexuality in recent years. We are aware of concerns that some people charged and executed for other crimes (such as rape and kidnap) may have been homosexual.

Homosexuals, along with other minority groups in Iran, do experience discrimination but we do not have any evidence of a state-led campaign of persecution targeting Iran's gay community. It is difficult to get reliable information about the situation of homosexuals in Iran as the issue is not generally discussed in public.

The UK and the EU regularly raise human rights concerns with the Iranian Government. Most recently, in a demarche to the Iranian authorities on 27 April, the EU raised concerns about a report that over 30 men had been arrested when police raided a party at a home in Esfahan in February. The men were reportedly referred to a forensic medical examiner to look for evidence that they had engaged in homosexual conduct.

The UK is concerned about reports of violence and persecution of homosexuals in Iraq. We do not have any direct evidence of targeted or systematic abuses taking place against the homosexual community within Iraq, although random acts of violence have taken place. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials, together with the private secretary to Ann Clwyd MP, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's Special Envoy to Iraq on Human Rights, will soon be arranging a meeting with the Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group to discuss the issues and challenges that face them in Iraq.