The Swedish Migration Board yesterday ordered a gay Christian Iranian teenager to leave Sweden. Despite the well documented persecution of both Christians and gays in Iran, the board rejected 19-year-old Mehdi Shokr Khoda’s application for asylum.
Mehdi Shokr Khoda and Christianity
Mehdi fled Iran in 2017. He converted to Christianity in Stockholm and subsequently underwent baptisism. However, the Migration Board ruled his “thoughts and reflections” on Christianity insufficient to prove his belief.
Although the Iranian Penal Code makes no explicit mention of apostasy (leaving the Muslim faith), the constitution allows religious law to apply to ‘crimes’ not codified by law.
Consequently, if Mehdi converted to Christianity before leaving Iran, he faced a long term of imprisonment or potentially death.
“You’re either Muslim or you’re dead,” he said.
Mehdi lived in Stockholm for the past 18 months with his 22-year-old boyfriend, Carlo Rapisarda.
Carlo said, “We live together, we love each other, we’ve known each other a long time.”
Nevertheless, the board ruled Mehdi “was unable to explain his coming out process” as a gay man.
However, Carlo disputed the methodology the board used to arrive at the decision.
“There’s not a scientific way. You can’t hook him up to cables and check.
“As any LGBT person will tell you, such typical steps don’t exist! The process is quite different for each individual.”
The Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights also testified on Mehdi’s behalf.
“There’s no doubt. Mehdi is gay and in need of protection.”
Thousands of gay and lesbian executions
Mehdi said deportation to Iran would result in his death.
“If they find out I’m Christian or I’m gay or I tried to seek asylum, they will not understand that.
“They will execute me.”
According to a British Wikileaks despatch in 2008, Iran executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians from 1979 until 2008.
Indeed, reports indicate Iran executed a gay man in January.
Undoubtedly gays, Christians and asylum seekers face persecution in Iran.
As a gay Christian Iranian, there is little doubt Mehdi would face extreme danger in his home country.
While Swedish authorities do not forcibly deport asylum seekers, unlike Australia and other countries, Mehdi would become an undocumented citizen.
A GoFundMe page set up by Carlo with a 25,000 kroner goal to pay legal expenses so far raised over 28,000 kroner.
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