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Petitioning UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson
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UK Home Secretary
Alan Johnson

Urge the UK Government to Help "Iraqi LGBT" Save Lives

Iraqi LGBT -- one of the only international groups working to help LGBT people inside Iraq -- is being blocked from doing a major part of their advocacy work because the government of the United Kingdom has not given Iraqi LGBT's leader, Ali Hili, asylum. It's time to urge the UK Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, and the government of Prime Minister Gordon Brown to prioritize Ali's case and work to make sure that Iraqi LGBT can continue to do the necessary work to save lives of LGBT people inside Iraq.  Below is a plea from Iraqi LGBT. If you agree, sign this petition and send a message to Secretary Johnson.

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The UK government through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel.

This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.

As UK activist Peter Tatchell said, "Mr Hili was also the person who set up the 'underground railroad' and safe houses inside Iraq, to give refuge to LGBT people on the run from Islamist death squads and to provide escape routes to neighbouring countries - which saved the lives of many Iraqi LGBTs."

Shouldn't Hili be rewarded for this brave work? Instead, he's mired in the bureaucracy of government. It's time to urge the UK government to act now to process Ali's asylum application.


Letter to
UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson
Your department through its Border Agency has decided not to give priority to the asylum application of Iraqi LGBT leader Ali Hili, in exile in London. The application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, Ali cannot travel.

This decision directly impacts not just on Ali but on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally.

As you may be aware, numerous human rights organisations and journalists have documented the pogrom against lesbians and gays in Iraq. Human Rights Watch has described a "campaign of torture and murder". Iraqi LGBT estimates that over 700 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) have been assassinated over the past few years. The United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees has advised 'favourable consideration' for asylum claims because of the situation.

As the public leader of the only group representing LGBT people both inside Iraq and in the diaspora, Hili has received a fatwa from inside Iraq as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police.

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke last month of their concerns for LGBT both in Iraq and as refugees, in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-signed by 64 other Congresspeople.

Hili has received many requests to speak internationally and spread the word which he has been unable to pursue.

His solicitor, Barry O'Leary, wrote to the Border Agency in August 2009 that: "he desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world's attention to their plight."

Six months later, he got a reply saying that:
· the assistance given by Hilli to the Foreign Office "does not count"
· the fatwa does not mean that Hilli "falls within the classification of clear and immediate vulnerability"
· that the delay in deciding Hilli's asylum case (since July 2007) "is not in itself an exceptional circumstance"
· his case is not "compelling"

The UK Foreign Office Human Rights Report for 2009 specifically names Iraqi LGBT over other NGOs as a key source of information. Hili has met with them numerous times. The report quotes Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell condemning persecution of LGBT in Iraq.

Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant wrote in his blog on Feb. 24: "I know some people dismiss LGBT rights as something of a sideshow in international relations, but I am proud to say that the FCO has argued for a decade that human rights are a seamless garment."

Yet the same government through the Home Office is effectively aiding that persecution through the failure of government recognition to Iraqi LGBT's leader.

I request that you intervene in Ali Hili's asylum claim so it is expedited and so he is properly able to tell the world about what is happening to LGBT in Iraq.