Pegah Emambakhsh, the gay Iranian woman who in 2007 was within hours of being deported from the UK as a failed refugee seeker, can now stay in the UK, it was revealed last night.
She fled Iran for the UK almost four years ago when her sexuality became known to the religious authorities; her same-sex partner was arrested and subsequently tortured and sentenced to death.
But her application for refuge fell on deaf ears at the Home Office and in the summer of 2007 she was told she would be returned to Iran.
Hundreds of people around the world lobbied the British Government who postponed the deportation while “the case was reviewed” in August 2007.
“We have just been informed that Pegah Emambakhsh… has finally been granted refugee status in the UK after almost four years,” Arsham Parsi, the executive director of IRanian Queer Railroad (IRQR) said last night in Toronto.
“This is fantastic news and a great reward for all the hard work you supporters put in to ensure she was not sent back to Iran.”
Mr. Parsi said that he had received a telephone call at 11pm (UK time) from Ms. Emambakhsh.
“I could not believe it,” she told Mr. Parsi. “A few hours ago I received a phone call from my lawyer to say that I have been granted refugee status.
“I will meet my lawyer tomorrow [Thursday]. I have to read that paper several times to make sure I am free from now.”
IRanian Queer Railroad has been following Ms. Emambakhsh’s case since 2006.
“We remember the day that the British authorities decided to deport her back to Iran and hundreds of people protested this inhuman action,” Mr. Parsi said.
“Pegah’s supporters sent a multitude of emails and faxes to the British Home Office and their Members of Parliament to stop her deportation.”
The widespread international campaign to save Ms. Emambakhsh from deportation, and probably her life, involved government institutions, human rights organisations, LGBT activist groups, intellectuals, experts in international law and thousands of people who have come to love Pegah, Mr. Parsi added.
A spokesperson for the Sheffield-based Friends of Pegah group said: “This has been a long struggle but it is a real vindication of what can be achieved when we all work together.”