Turkey to deport LGBTI+ activist facing possible execution in Iran

Elyas Torabibaeskendari

Turkish authorities have decided on the deportation of an Iranian refugee who was recently detained at a Pride march in İstanbul despite the fact that he could face a death sentence in Iran due to his sexual orientation, Turkish Minute reported, citing Deutsche Welle Turkish service.

Turkish police on June 25 detained 113 people, including five foreign nationals – from Iran, Libya, Russia, Portugal and Australia. Turkish media reported last week, citing LGBT+ advocacy group KAOS GL, that the foreigners were being held in deportation centers and are under threat of being returned to their countries.

According to DW, a deportation decision was made on Wednesday regarding three individuals – an Iranian, a Russian and a Portuguese – who were being held at the Urfa Deportation Center, due to violation of Law No. 2911 on Assemblies and Demonstrations.

While the Russian and Portuguese nationals have agreed to voluntary repatriation, Iranian LGBTI+ activist Elyas Torabibaeskendari, who could face execution if returned to his home country, will challenge the decision through his lawyers, DW said.

Torabibaeskenderi’s lawyer, Mustafa Vefa, told DW that he will also appeal the administrative decision regarding the activist, which is valid for six months.

“If our appeal is accepted by the Criminal Court of Peace, Elyas may be released within three days. In the event of the appeal being rejected, however, he may be held at the deportation center for six months,” Vefa said.

The lawyer stated that until the appeal against the deportation decision is concluded, Elyas cannot be deported, emphasizing that any contrary action would be “unlawful.”

Homosexuality is not illegal in Turkey, but homophobia is widespread. After a spectacular Pride March in İstanbul drew 100,000 people in 2014, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government responded by banning future events in the city, citing security concerns.

It is common for Erdoğan and other politicians from the AKP to attack LGBTI+ individuals and accuse them of perversion and ruining family values.

Turkey was ranked 48th among 49 countries as regards the human rights of LGBT people, according to the 2023 Rainbow Europe Map published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA)-Europe.

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