Sexual Justice?

20 05 2008

Every once in a while, you go through a phase of being completely uninspired to write. There is nothing ‘meaty’ to grab your attention in the news, and with the football season (at least The Championship, for my team) long over, a sense of lingustic apathy can overwhelm even the most ardent writers.

So it was for me. Until I saw this story, hiding away amongst the furore surrounding the 24-week abortion vote, the US elections and various natural disasters. I will be honest, the story threw me slightly. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Yes, it is a good thing that this man has been granted asylum given what he would have to face otherwise. Yes, the punishments for homosexuality in Iran are irrational, and downright wrong. No, I’m not happy.

Perhaps I’m oversimplifying things here, and if so bear with me. This man, who studied English at university in London, was granted asylum in Britain because to be sent home would have meant his death. Clear so far? Now I don’t want to go on about this but something is slightly off to me. Ama Sumani, who you may remember was sent home to Ghana, despite the drugs and equipment needed to keep her alive being scarce in her home country. She was effectively sent home to die. She had been in Britain on a student visa too.

Now I accept that the causes of death would have been different (one a terminal illness, the other a noose cunningly placed around ones neck), but beyond that I am stuggling to see how different these cases are. Apart from one count. That of the man’s sexuality. That is obviously what has saved this man, and was likely to be a mitigating factor considered when granting him his asylum. What of Ama’s mitigating circumstances, like the point she could not afford care to keep her alive in her home country? They were dismissed, she was packed off home. To die.

I just wish consistancy would play some part in making these decisions. Case-by-case is all very well and good, but there needs to be some marker, some level that those deciding who stays and who goes must work to. If, as in both these cases likelihood of death is deemed to be, let’s say, ‘high’, then the authorities need to either rule with an iron fist, and send them both off home to suffer the consequences; or they allow them to stay. At the moment (as with the current edition of the offside rule- which, you can be certain will be revised again before the European Championships start in a month or so) no-one is really clear on what is needed to grant asylum, and different people are working to different standards. Or so it seems.