The battle by 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi – who fears being executed in his homeland because he is gay – to be granted asylum in Europe is making headlines in the mainstream press.

Kazemi’s plight has been featured in Britain’s The Independent newspaper. He appeared in a Dutch court this week in desperate attempt to stay in the Netherlands. He had fled there after being refused asylum in the UK.

While the Netherlands offers asylum protection for gays and lesbians, EU law states that asylum seekers must return to the country where they first sought asylum. The Dutch court is set to decide if he can stay in Holland.

Kazemi was in England for two years completing his education on a student visa. While in the country he learned that his former boyfriend had been executed for being gay. Before the execution, he was apparently tortured into revealing Kazemi’s identity to the authorities.

After he learned of the execution, Kazemi decided to apply to the UK authorities for asylum, claiming that his life would be in danger if he returned to Iran.

The Independent reports that, according to Iranian human rights campaigners, more than 4 000 gays and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

The UK’s Home Office has been criticised by human rights groups for its inconsistent approach to granting asylum – especially towards gays and lesbians.

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