Britain’s deportation of gay Iranian refugees is essentially a death sentence, according to Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum. In that spirit, the organization asked each presidential candidate to take a stand on the dilemma which has emerged as a minor campaign issue in this election season, according to The Washington Blade.
“We wanted to join the LGBT community in Europe by lending our voice and hopefully the voices of our presidential candidates to what we feel is a significant international human rights concern,” he said.
While presumptive Republican nominee John McCain did not respond to any inquiries, both Democratic candidates’ campaigns did.
Obama’s campaign, the first to respond, said in a statement Monday that the senator “believes that the United States and countries around the world have both a legal and a moral obligation to protect victims of persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Under an Obama administration, the United States will lead by setting a strong example, which includes making clear that asylum for persecuted people is a bedrock principle of American and international law,” says the statement. “Moreover, Obama will exert diplomatic pressure and employ other foreign policy tools to encourage other nations to address human rights abuses and atrocities committed against LGBT men and women.”
Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesperson, would not say whether Obama planned to write to Brown on the issue, as Equality Forum requested.
Lee Feinstein, the Clinton campaign’s national security director, said Tuesday that it was tracking the case of Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay man living in Britain who faces execution if returned to Iran.
“The campaign has discussed this issue with the U.K. government,” he said. “We were encouraged to learn that the deportation order for Mr. Kazemi has been deferred and is now under review.”
Feinstein said the campaign would “continue to follow this issue closely.