The UK government has refused to give priority to an application for asylum by Ali Hili, the leader of the Iraqi LGBT group, currently in exile in London.
Hili’s application has been outstanding for nearly three years and he is unable to travel until it is resolved.
In a statement, the Iraqi LGBT group claimed that the delay “directly impact(s) on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally”.
Hili has received many requests, which he has been unable to pursue, to speak internationally about the situation in Iraq.
His solicitor, Barry O’Leary, wrote to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) in August 2009, “He desperately wishes to do this [travel] in order to further the aims of his organisation, that is, supporting lesbians and gay men in Iraq and bringing the world’s attention to their plight.”
Hili’s review application was rejected by the UKBA six months later.
“I have made UKBA aware of the detriment the nearly three-year delay is having on the work of Iraqi LGBT. I have also stressed that this will be a straightforward matter given Hili’s very high profile and the documented risks to his life.
Nevertheless they decided to leave him in the queue for a decision. This can only harm LGBT individuals in Iraq,” O’Leary said.
As the public leader of the only group representing Iraqi LGBT, Hili says he has received a fatwa from inside Iraq as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police.
“It is extremely distressing that the British government is refusing to allow me to take up the many offers to speak on behalf of the lesbians and gays in our organisation. I have been the only person who has willingly identified themselves as a gay Iraqi and this has made me a target. But the British government doesn’t take this seriously,” Hili said.
Iraqi LGBT have set up a campaign page on their website: www.bit.ly/alihili