I know why the government wants to send homosexuals back to Iran to be hanged

Gays are law-abiding, better-educated than the norm, economically productive and tend to be less of a drain on the state, says Rod Liddle. They don’t stand a chance in this country

26 March 2008

12:00 AM

26 March 2008

12:00 AM

Gays are law-abiding, better-educated than the norm, economically productive and tend to be less of a drain on the state, says Rod Liddle. They don’t stand a chance in this country

Should we afford Iranian homosexuals political asylum in this country, or send them back to be hanged in their home country? I suppose there is a certain, dwindling, lobby in Great Britain which would argue we could hang them here and then bill Iran for the cost. Surely not many people still cleave to such a view — although we ought to remember that within my lifetime homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain. This point is made frequently by lefties who wish to draw some sort of equivalence between the Muslim world and our own country — see, we persecuted the poofs too. Yes, we did, unforgiveably — but we didn’t actually hang them, or whip them. Or indeed, as they do in Iran and Saudi Arabia, whip them first and then hang them.

Two gay kids were hanged back in 2005 in Mashhad, having first been subjected to the requisite 228 lashes. They were 16 years old at the time of their ‘offence’, but this plea of mitigation cut no ice with the Iranians. The whole business has re-emerged with the case of Mehdi Kazemi, another gay Iranian teenager, whom the British government wishes to send back to Iran. Kazemi’s boyfriend was hanged there a couple of years back and he fears, reasonably enough, that the same fate awaits him. In the 29 years since Iran experienced its joyful and uplifting Islamic revolution and the overthrow of the Shah, an estimated 4,000 homosexuals have been put to death, inshallah.


The case of Mehdi Kazemi has been reported with a degree of sympathy by the liberal British media which, by and large, doesn’t like seeing people hanged. The BBC found itself in a bit of a bind because, while it wholly approves of sodomy, it approves of Islam too. Both are on its Category One list of stuff which deserves to be treated nicely in news reports. And so we were told that while Iran was a ‘conservative’ society which did indeed exhibit the occasional bout of homophobia, it wasn’t necessarily the case that Kazemi would be strung up as soon as he got back. If he pretended not to be gay, he’d probably be OK for a while. At other times we have been informed that Islam is a peaceable religion which has nothing at all against homosexuals, it’s just the macho, patriarchal culture which prevails in that part of the world. This little nugget of voluntary self-delusion is true only if you accept that Islam itself is a product of the macho, patriarchal culture in that part of the world. There are 57 member countries of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, of which 41 sign up to state persecution of homosexuals and ten put them to death.

Another adherent to this left-liberal double-think is Peter Tatchell, the boss of the radical gay organisation Outrage, and the chap who has — predictably and laudably — led the campaign against Kazemi’s deportation. Tatchell once called upon Muslims to make common cause with homosexuals because they were both, uh, persecuted minorities. Much as I admire Tatchell, I do not think that a wacky sense of humour ranks among his many qualities, so I assume he was serious about that. It is such a fantastically stupid and deluded notion, but one common to many on the Left.

Tatchell has stood as a Green party candidate in Oxford and is presumably still a party member. The Greens recently threw their lot in with Ken Livingstone, in his bid to become re-elected as Mayor of London. Ken is not himself a homophobe, so far as I know, but he continues to invite to London Muslim clerics who support the murder of homosexuals and defends them for their views. In other words, he promotes fascistic and homophobic Islamic speakers. If Tatchell — who has done perhaps more than any single individual to counter discrimination against gays and Muslims worldwide — were true to his beliefs, he would endorse Boris Johnson’s campaign instead. Boris is a metropolitan libertarian and homosexuality is not an issue for him at all. But Tatchell presumably thinks that Islam’s proscriptions against homosexuality are an unfortunate historic aberration — an example of false consciousness, perhaps — and that ‘underneath’, Muslims think gay people are absolutely fine and tickety-boo. Read Mohammed’s hadiths, Pete.

But, still, the question remains: should we allow Iranian homosexuals asylum? Given the general warp and weft of the government’s current policy towards asylum seekers, the answer is a clear ‘no’. People who seem to the public to have either a historic right to stay in Britain, either because of their own valour on behalf of our country or because of some ghastly malefaction occasioned by the close of our empire are always barred: Gurkhas, Hong Kong Chinese, black Zimbabweans. Algerians, Libyans, Pakistanis and so on who want to kill us all, and even tell the courts they wish to kill us all, are allowed to remain, in case they themselves are bumped off when they return to the hellholes from which they emanated. The government’s policy — and the law of the land — on this sort of thing is, you have to say, beguilingly counter-intuitive. Paedophiles? Yep, in you come. Bombers — welcome. People who fought for us for a pittance, nope.

Based upon this rationale, you might expect the government to say no to someone of blameless countenance whose only crime is to have been born with a genetic disposition at odds with the mediaeval beliefs of his or her home country. And indeed that is exactly what the government is saying. The case against allowing Iranian homosexuals to stay becomes even stronger when you consider that on average, homosexuals are an extremely law-abiding community, better-educated than the norm and tend, in the end, to be more economically productive. Further, they are less of a drain upon the state for dependents because, homosexuality being what it is, they tend not to have many dependents. Given all of these points you would expect the government to be utterly averse. Genuinely persecuted back home and potentially useful members of our society — they don’t stand a chance, do they?

President Ahmadinejad announced last September that there were no homosexuals whatsoever in Iran, so I suppose we shall have to take his word for it. Perhaps we should let Mehdi Kazemi stay here, then, for the simple reason that he does not exist.

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Show comments
  • Matthew Wilson

    Judging by the following Guardian Comment Is Free article from Wednesday, you and Tatchell are on the same side, Rod.


  • EyeSee

    Homosexuality exists. Whether it is right or wrong is a philosophical debate (well OK, not in the UK as freedom of speech is an outdated concept). To oppose someone’s status of persecution because of it would be ridiculous. Certainly as mad as forcing a societal change based on a ‘genetic’ tic. It is suggested that we leave gays alone and I agree; they should not be distressed nor should society be altered to accomodate their preferences.Personally, I’m not wealthy and I think it is persecution that I’m not.

  • John Thomas

    So Rod swallows the bogus idea that homosexuality is a product of genes, ie. one’s genetic make-up, the “this is my nature” theory – doesn’t he know about the Three Myths of Homosexuality (That it is inherent, That it is impossible to reject, That it is just a life-style choice as valid as any other with no medical/physical hazaards). Even the “committed” (ie biased, politicised) American Psychologucal Association has recently conceded, apparently, that people can successfully become ex- (or post-) gay if they choose; it is now ex-gays who hide in the closet (to escape the mauling of the gay mafia), but increasingly, it seems, some ex-gays are daring to venture out … Things are the other way round, now.

  • Strawsonian

    Nice alias, John Thomas. But how’s this for a radical notion: whether homosexuality is a genetic predisposition or a lifestyle choice, what its practitioners get up to as consenting adults is no one else’s business. In a free society, if you don’t violate JS Mill’s harm principle that should be the end of the story. That should be a conservative as well as a liberal position. Not sure why it seems to be so hard for some people to accept. Religion is no excuse.

  • D Shortd

    I agree with Gore Vidal, who said there is no such thing as a homosexual, only homosexual acts.

    And something on of Kingsley Amis’s character said bears repeating: ‘A penis is a wonderful thing. The only trouble is that there’s a man at the end of it’.

  • mark

    read this alongside Selbourne’s article,,,,,,,what’s the answer? I dunno – except sending people back to be hanged can’t be right – but mayb getting tougher with the hangers supporters here is part of the solution?

  • Stan Coveney

    Rod, your thesis is in general that homosexuals are and will be less of a burden on taxpayers than other groups in society.

    Let’s be generous and assume that 5% of the UK population is homosexual and lesbian, say some 3 million souls.

    The number of people living with HIV in the UK is now around 70,000 and let’s say that 80% of them are homosexual and lesbian, that is 56,000.
    In 2000 it was estimated that each HIV infection prevented saves between £500,000 and £1 million over a lifetime.
    If Mehdi Kazemi were to stay in the UK and if he were contract HIV within 12 months then the cost to the UK taxpayer over his lifetime would far outweigh the tax contributions of many other homosexual and lesbian taxpayers and his own contributions.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Good apart from the stuff about dependents. Kids are not ‘dependents’, they are the precondition for any of us being able to retire. Gays are in the same position as childless heterosexuals (like me): either we’re planning to work till we drop, or we’re freeloaders.

  • Craig

    It is worrying. We have the similar situation with opposition party members seeking asylum in this country from Mugabe’s regime. It is our duty to send a message and propagate people that are sufferers within oppressive regimes, with the courage to challenge oppressor. Sending these people back to these oppressive places will result in a direct failure of our prime objective, to promote democratic will in others.
    If we send these people back we will have turned our backs on them.

  • David Short

    Mr Grumpy’s economics come out of the Stone Age, or at least the agricultural one. People used to have children in order that they could provide for them and look after them in ‘old age’. Now we have money, investments and property. You can rely on those; in fact, so will your offspring well into their adulthood, even when they are not wastrels, which many are.

    ‘Kids’ today are valued more for their cuteness and diversion when young, rather than for any damned practical or financial use later in the parents’ life.

    That cute period is rather short, the dependency age is much, much longer and it bleeds people in their 50s and 60s, who otherwise would be living it up in the sun, especially if divorced, dry before nature does that to them.

  • HKA

    Stan Coveney – in the interests of accuracy, suggest you have a look at the NSO figures on HIV. The majority of cases presently registered in the UK are heterosexual. The majority of new heterosexual cases presenting for treatment are immigrants – mainly it seem, from Africa and Asia.

  • TDK

    It seems to me that the majority of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants are not being deported, and where the government does act it frequently seems to do so in cases like Mehdi Kazemi’s where the case appears pretty compelling to allow leave to stay.

    I wonder how the authorities prioritise these cases. Perhaps the vast majority of cases really are lower priority than Mehdi Kazemi’s, because they do have better claims to asylum. Or perhaps a bureaucracy, who don’t really believe in deportation, deliberately expedite cases like this one because they calculate that the adverse publicity thus attracted will tend to undermine demand to deport anyone at all.

  • Ujima

    Tatchell has The Guardian to thank for the continued persecution of gay Muslims in places like Iran.

    The more praise they get in the Western media, the more extreme the regime gets because they can see they are winning.

    Sorry, Peter, you are an arch hypocrite for having a love-in with The Guardian.

  • Familiar Clown

    They do a nice line in hanging homosexuals by crane in the Islamic Republic of Iran. BTW don’t take that swine Ahmadinejad’s word for anything.

  • Cllr Steve Radford – President of The Liberal Party

    Delighted to read the Spectator article, When I saw “progressive” Ken Livingstone sucking up to clerics whose only ambiguity on Homosexuals was whether we sould be flung off a cliff or stoned to death, it gave me a sense of wanting to vomit.

    We need everyone to stand up for refugess flying for their lives, including gays from Islam