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Cyprus grant of residence to gay Iranian refugee welcomed

November 26, 2008 11:00 PM

Commenting on the case of Abbas Bagherian, the Iranian gay asylum seeker who sought refuge in Cyprus, Liberal Democrat justice and human rights spokeswoman Sarah Ludford MEP welcomed the decision of the Cyprus Minister of the Interior to grant him resident status. She said: "I strongly welcome the decision to allow Mr Bagherian to remain in Cyprus, since a rejection of his application and his return to Iran would have left him vulnerable to imprisonment, torture and in the worst case the death penalty, simply for being gay."

"I hope that we are starting to see a general move in EU countries to recognise the validity of asylum claims based on the risk of persecution due to sexual orientation. There should be a consistent EU policy, because such fears may be absolutely justified regarding a country like Iran."

Sarah Ludford also thanked her MEP colleague Panayiotis Demetriou of Cyprus' DISY party (EPP group), for taking the initiative of raising the case in discussions with the minister.

Sarah Ludford MEP was one of thirteen MEPs who signed a parliamentary question asking if the rejection of Mr Bagherian's application was a breach of Council Directive 2005/85/EC and 2004/83/EC. She has previously intervened on similar successful cases such as that of Mehdi Kazemi the gay Iranian student seeking asylum in the UK.