Iranian Lesbian Finds Hope In British Asylum Decision

Lesbian who fled from Iran is seeking asylum in the UK.

Days before President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran made his controversial visit to the United States, and after a long international campaign on her behalf, on Sept 11 British authorities allowed an Iranian lesbian facing deportation to remain in the United Kingdom.

Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, reached Britain after she fled Iran in 2005 when her partner was arrested and tortured. She was arrested in Sheffield and charged with being in the country illegally. When an immigration judge rejected her arguments that she would be endangered if she were to be returned to Iran, she was ordered held at a detention center to await her expulsion from the country.

Homosexuality is considered a crime in Iran and can be punished with death, as is believed to have happened in 2005, when two teenagers in the country were hanged on charges of homosexual involvement.

Responding to pressure from LGBT rights groups, such as the Friends of Pegah Campaign, and an offer from Italy to grant asylum to Emambak-hsh if Britain would not, the government granted her temporary asylum. Advo-cates say that a final decision on the case is expected soon.