An Iranian lesbian asylum seeker faces deportation back to her home country by UK authorities, where she could face arrest and execution.

Pegah Emambakhsh is an Iranian national who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. Her claim was rejected and she was arrested in Sheffield on Monday 13th August 2007. She is scheduled for deportation to Iran on 27 August 2007.

If returned to Iran, she almost certainly faces imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation – she was in a same-sex relationship.

Emambakhsh escaped from Iran, claiming asylum, after her lover was arrested, tortured and subsequently sentenced to death by stoning. Her father was also arrested and interrogated about her whereabouts. He was eventually released but not before he had been tortured himself.

Ms Emambakhsh has a more than well-founded fear of persecution; gays and lesbians are severely persecuted in Iran. According to Iranian human rights campaigners, many lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979.

In 2006 a German court ruled that an Iranian lesbian could not be deported as she risked death because of her sexuality.

Activists have embarked on a letter writing campaign to the Home Secretary to reconsider Emambakhsh’s case and grant her permission to stay in the UK. There are also attempts to arrange for new solicitors to make a fresh claim for asylum based on new evidence and expert testimonies.

Pegah’s MP, Richard Caborn, has already won one stay of deportation and is working to secure another postponement of deportation on 27 August.

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