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Sweden allows gay
Iranians asylum in light of executions

Sweden allows gay
Iranians asylum in light of executions

Sweden is reviewing its asylum policy for gay Iranians after two teenagers were executed in northeastern Iran on charges of involvement in homosexual acts, immigration authorities said Friday. The decision means a temporary freeze on deportations of gay Iranians who have been denied asylum in Sweden, officials said. The hangings last month of the two teens prompted protests from gay rights activists in Sweden, who called on their government to immediately stop all deportations of gay asylum-seekers to Iran.

The Scandinavian nation grants asylum to people who face persecution in their home countries, but current regulations don't recognize gays as a persecuted group in Iran. "We will examine more closely whether there is reason to look differently at the matter," said Migration Board spokeswoman Ulla Petersson Imnell. She said all pending deportations of gay Iranians would be put on hold as Swedish authorities investigate the situation of gays in Iran. She would not say how many people the decision affects.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Rights welcomed the government's decision. "I am pleased, but it has been a long time coming," said the group's chairman, Soren Andersson. "Also, this is not just an Iranian issue; there have recently been gay people refused asylum from Nigeria, Uganda, and Pakistan. They have been sent back to their countries, and we do not know what has happened to them."

Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, were hanged publicly on July 19 in the Iranian city of Mashhad on charges of raping younger boys. Marhoni was a minor when he was arrested. The two teens were held in prison for 14 months, during which time they received lashings. (AP)

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