Published November 11, 2016
Amir Shokrgozar, an asylum seeker from Iran, is facing deportation to Italy, where he was viciously gang-raped and persecuted for being both gay and Christian. If he is sent to Italy, he will likely live on the streets.
Gay Iceland reports that Amir has been living in Iceland for the past year and a half now. He left his home country of Iran due to persecution for his sexuality.
“My father was executed in the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution, when I was only two,” he says. “So my mother raised me and my three sisters on her own but the family was always under the mercy of the government, because of my father. Then I was reported to the authorities for being a homosexual so I was at risk of being arrested. [Iran has capital punishment for sexual conduct with person of the same-sex.] So because of my safety I was forced to flee from Iran.”
During his flight, he ended up in Italy where, despite not wanting to seek asylum there, he was fingerprinted and put in a refugee centre. There, his nightmare began.
“What I went through in the refugee camp in Italy was very difficult for me,” he said. “I experienced physical and psychological harassment so I left the camp and was living on the streets for 6 months. That time was very difficult; there were times when I had to go and sleep under the table of other refugees. And sometimes I didn‘t even have that possibility. Sometimes I didn‘t even have anything to eat and so I had to say yes to people who asked me to have sex with them instead. But they often treated me really badly, cutting me, beating me up and throwing me out of their house. So I experienced a lot of psychological, physical and sexual violence in Italy.”
Since arriving in Iceland, he has been active with learning Icelandic at Tækniskólinn, as well as volunteering at the Red Cross and Samtökin ’78.
Despite all this, the Directorate of Immigration and the Immigration Appeals Board have rejected his request for asylum in Iceland, and will deport him back to Italy.
Auður Magndís Auðardóttir, Director of Samtökin ’78, told Gay Iceland that immigration authorities are woefully ignorant about the challenges and hardships LGBTI+ asylum seekers face, and this case in particular is especially egregious.
“We are talking about a gay man who has suffered barbaric violence and is because of that mentally quite ill,” she said. “The Directorate of Immigration doesn’t doubt his sexuality or how he feels, but still doesn’t come to the conclusion that he is in a sensitive position. To me that’s absolutely incomprehensible. Either it shows a total lack of empathy or ignorance when it comes to the reality that queer asylum seekers are faced with.”