GENEVA — An Iranian man convicted of heroin trafficking will be expelled and returned to his home country, a Swiss court said Monday, even though the man claimed that he could be persecuted for being homosexual
The Federal Administrative Tribunal threw out the 35-year-old's argument, saying in its decision made public Monday that "at the moment there is no known case from Iran in which someone has been convicted due to his sexual orientation."
The court said that as far as Swiss authorities understand, "homosexuality is not uncommon in the Iranian society and systematic discrimination is not detectable."
"In practice, homosexuality is tolerated by the authorities when it is not done openly in view in an offensive manner," said the court.
The court also pointed out that the man had travelled once alone and twice to Iran with his Swiss partner without any repercussions.
In fact, two of the three visits were made after 2005. Therefore, the court argued, the man's claim that the situation for homosexuals has worsened since Iranian President Ahmadinejad took power did not hold water.
Reacting to the case, Amnesty International said: "It is not acceptable for the court to state that if he conceals his homosexuality he will not have any problems."
It added that "a person cannot be expected or required by the state to change or conceal his or her identity in order to avoid persecution."
"Swiss authorities must give the applicant the benefit of the doubt in all cases, not least where the stakes are life and death," said the human rights group.
The man first arrived in Switzerland to seek asylum in December 2000. His application was rejected twice, but he obtained a short-term residence permit in December 2004 due to a civil union pact with his Swiss partner.
However, after he was convicted for trafficking 70 grams of heroin, his attempt at renewing his residence permit was rejected in December 2007.
He then went to court to get the decision on his residency overturned, arguing that homosexuals can be severely punished in Iran and could risk their lives.
Late last year, the Swiss population voted to automatically expel foreign residents convicted of certain crimes, including "rape, serious sexual offence, acts of violence such as robbery," drug trafficking and "abuse of social aid."
Feb 14, 2011
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