Norway Refuses Gay Iraqi Asylum

A gay Iraqi has been refused Norwegian asylum and told to ‘go home and be discrete.’

The High Court accepted that Azad was gay and that gay men in Iraq are at risk, including at risk of being killed, but it ruled that he  ’must comply with Iraq’s socio-cultural norms.’

Azad is a Kurd and the Immigration authorities claimed that risks to gay men in the Kurdish region “differs greatly” from the rest of Iraq and that he can seek protection from the Kurdish autonomous region‘s authorities.

His lawyer, Jon Ole Martinsen, said that:

In practice it means to hide your sexual orientation, for if it is discovered you will be in danger of being persecuted.

Azad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) that:

My clan is going to kill me. Gays and lesbians cannot live openly in Iraq.

So-called ‘honor killing’ is a major problem in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

Last month, a report emerged of police raiding a gay party in Kalar, a small town in Kurdistan, arresting 25 men.

In September, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released a report which said that attacks on LGBT in Iraq had continued in 2010.

Azad has been in a relationship with Norwegian Odd Arne Henriksen since they met in 2006. Henriksen said that if Azad  was sent to Iraq, he would go with him.

“In our family we don’t give up so easily. We stand at the very end,” he told NRK.

Azad  came to Norway ten years ago, speaks “good Norwegian,” according to the newspaper Aftenposten, works in the canteen at Telenor’s headquarters and has many friends.

Last year, in a landmark decision, the British Supreme Court, in a case involving a Cameroonian and an Iranian, decided that gay or lesbian asylum seekers could not be told to ‘go home and be discrete.’

Martinsen said that Azad’s case will now be taken up to the Norwegian Supreme Court.

In the last two years, 40 of 52 gay people seeking asylum have been rejected according to Norwegian government figures. The Ministry of Justice said in an e-mail to NRK that they are considering changing how LGBT asylum cases are dealt with.

“They must say that it cannot be required of each applicant to hide his [sexual] orientation on return”, says Martinsen.

“Norway should be a leader that protects everyone, regardless of sexual orientation.”

Other European countries, including France, do not return Iraqis and UNHCR continues to say it is unsafe to return asylum seekers to Iraq.

Last week, the Iraqi Minister of Immigration Dindar Najman told AKnews that Baghdad airport will no longer admit Iraqis who are deported from Europe by force.

The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (IFIR) have repeatedly accused the Iraqi government of signing a deal with European countries which deport Iraqis in return for dropping Iraqi debts. Among the countries that have started forced deportations via Baghdad since 2005 are Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

According to the IFIR 5,000 to 6,000 Iraqi refugees, most of them Kurds, have been deported from Europe since then.

Kurdistan-based chief of IFIR, Amanj Abdulla, told AKnews no European country has tried to send any refugee back to Iraq since the decision was made, so the authority’s resolve to enforce this ban remains untested.

Nevertheless, he valued the decision as “a positive step in favor of Iraqi refugees.”

Related stories:

Dutch Relax Rules For Gay Binational Couples, Gay Refugees

Is South Africa Increasingly Refusing Gay Asylum Seekers?

Iraq’s Unwanted People (Video)

Photo credit: Bill Wilson Photos.


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G6 years ago

Racism, xenophobia and the like... it keeps rearing it's head, very, very SAD!

bob m.
bob m6 years ago


For your childrens' sake grow a backbone before any semblance of self respect is vapourized in the seductive vapors of accomodation....your courts are already showing signs of weirding as in Washington....wake up.

bob m.
bob m6 years ago

The mere fact that Norway is soooo liberal is no indication of anything necessarily to do with equality, liberty, security , character, principle, or truth, .
As I see it ; Scandinavia is rife with the kind of "liberation liberal libations' that have naievely cowtowed to an agenda of alliance with "foreign" agencies absolutely dedicated to their destruction, enslavement and caccooned exhistence of future generations .
This bottomless ; or should I say sickly,bottom to the cup of state in Scandinavia general; has already merely succumed to the manipulative , ingracious threatening and obviously intended goals of a virus of such virulence that it mocks the core of truth itself.
No amount of "accomodation" seems to be off the table when it comes to feeding this suicidal attitude .
As the ability to say NO in the face of this beast becomes more pronounced ; the very foundations of the host will deform til they the satisfaction of tyrrany itself.
What is SACRIFICED at these alters is the soul of and freedom of, the future generations of Scandinavia itself. Children given over to the Biker god of fear.
The impossible decisions to accommodate at the expense of the vulnerable can and will probably be done by governments increasingly unwilling to stand up for their own.
Even the streets are full of those who mock the mark that gives and gives thinking they are good guys but really they are being played and they are afraid.
Yes; I sense the aroma of the chambe

Nicola Thomasson
Nicola Thomasson6 years ago

Please explain how Norway being so liberal has anything to do with Azad not getting to stay, Bob M. Does it have to do with all the other immigrants who get to stay in Norway every year, does it have to do with all our rights, does it have to do with our great health care system, or the many other amazing things about Norway? I also find myself confused as to how the WHOLE of Norway, no matter how much they disagree and protest against The High Court's decision, is still condemned for its choice.

Marianna B M.

i agree

Arild Warud

Reading this makes me embarrased to be Norwegian.

F S6 years ago

WTF!!! So any LGBT has the 'right' to migrate wherever they want???

Chad A.
Chad Anderson6 years ago

Apparently homosexual rights are not human rights after all, but just a local cultural practice. There has to be more to this story.

bob m.
bob m6 years ago

@ Thanks Nicola T for kinda putting some flesh on the bones of my comment; It may just be the hyper "liberalism" of Norway that IS THE PROBLEM ; in a sorta spineless kinda way.
Is everybody HAPPY?

Lilithe Magdalene

Let him stay!! May the Norweigan Supreme Court have more compassion than this!