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Netherlands: Persecuted Iranians Granted Asylum

Citing Human Rights Watch’s work, Dutch members of parliament successfully pressured Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk not to deport lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) asylum-seekers back to Iran, where they face the threat of torture, ill-treatment, and even execution. In February 2006, Minister Verdonk declared her intention to lift a previously imposed ban on the deportation of LGBT Iranians (as well as religious converts), maintaining that they could avoid persecution by hiding their sexual orientations and religious beliefs.

A letter from Human Rights Watch denouncing her position focused widespread media attention on the consequences of the policy. Strengthened opposition in parliament prompted Minister Verdonk to extend the moratorium on expulsions until a new Dutch Foreign Ministry assessment of the situation is completed. Human Rights Watch will release a report on the treatment of LGBT people in Iran in advance of this next decision. We will continue to advocate for the Dutch government to permanently overturn the discriminatory deportation policy.

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