BEAR Magazine

Gay iranian considering moving away

I’m a 22 y/o gay guy living in Iran. Before asking for any suggestions, I’d like to give some background on my situation, so bear with me:

I’m going to be absolutely honest about my situation in my own country first; I’m basically out to all my friends, they all have accepted me the way I am. I’ve also come out to my mother, and she’s kind of okay with it. My dating life here is not that bad, I’ve been in a couple of relationships, I’ve gone on dates with guys from Denmark, Germany, France and New Zealand. That might seem unbelievable to you because of the image that Iran has on the media, but I’m not making it up, lots of tourists come here every year. However, what’s more important is the other side of the coin: everything has to be kept secret because of the death threat (Gay people can get executed if they’re caught). I should try to hide who I am at work because otherwise I might lose my job or I might get ratted out, I can never have a long-lasting relationship because of the fear and anxiety that accompanies me all the time; the fear of getting caught and later on getting executed. In other words, my life’s okay as long as I’m just hooking up with different guys and not having any serious relationships, but as soon as I get into a serious relationship, I realize how hard it actually is to live in this country. If you’re gay, you can’t hold hands with your partner, you can’t rent an apartment with them (So one of you has to be rich enough to be able to afford buying a house), you can’t lead your life peacefully because the fear of getting caught is always there, somewhere in the back of your mind.

And now, I’m in a dilemma. I don’t know what to do. I’ve studied English at one of the best universities in Iran, I’ve worked as an EFL instructor for almost a year. My social life is okay. I have good friends to hang out with. But my future looks bleak. I want to settle down one day and get married and stuff, and these aren’t the things I can have here.

I’m going to Germany (I’m fluent in German) as an exchange student in 4 weeks. A lot of my friends have suggested that I seek asylum there, but I don’t really think that would be a good idea. I think, in comparison to the lives of people from countries like Syria or Afghanistan, mine is much much better, so I don’t think I actually deserve getting asylum.

But I’m considering other options. Here’s the summary:

Continuing working as an EFL teacher in Iran, then applying for Canadian Express entry. (I would probably need to get a master’s degree as well)

Studying something else; Like, studying one of STEM fields, getting my degree, working here and then applying for jobs in other countries, where STEM fields are in demand (I don’t like STEM fields, tbh)

Going for a PhD in countries where getting a PhD would pave the way for citizenship or permanent residency.

What would you do if you were me? I’m looking forward to your comments.

Update (June 2019): I’ve been in Germany for four months now; wonderful country, awesome people. Knowing German opened doors for me, but I’ve decided against seeking asylum. The current situation is not that good, and I keep hearing that a lot of LGBT asylum applications get rejected. I don’t want to risk it. I’ve decided to go back to Iran and find another way out. (Applying to some foreign universities for instance) Thanks for your comments.

If you’re fluent in German, 2 or 3 in Germany make better sense by far than Canada. Your EFL training will be taken as below Canadian standard, so if you got in via Express Entry, it’s quite likely you may find yourself driving a taxi or waiting tables in a Persian restaurant, and need to change careers out of necessity.

Or he could immigrate to canada by express entry and then go back to school there…

You’re right. Although some of my co-workers have managed to find ESL jobs in cities like Vancouver and Toronto after getting the PR through Express Entry, that’s why I’ve considered this path. (They were non-native speakers as well, but they had gotten CELTA and had years of experience under their belts)

You definitely need to get out. Yeah there are other places that have it pretty bad, but if you could literally be executed by your government for just living your life, you’re well within the realm of seeking asylum. Don’t be concerned about how bad others have it, look after yourself. Like u/acrane55 said, I don’t know what’ll happen if you get turned down either, but definitely look into it. They’re not always very helpful, but maybe ask r/legaladvice to see if they know anything about the asylum system in Germany.

Looking after myself? Wow. I never saw it that way. I thought it might constitute selfishness. Thanks for the comment.

I think, in comparison to the lives of people from countries like Syria or Afghanistan, mine is much much better, so I don’t think I actually deserve getting asylum.

Your need isn’t based on comparison to others. You need it. Maybe other people need it more or less, that doesn’t matter – If you qualify for asylum, you should use it as an option.

This is such a hallmark of actual depression/anxiety/alienation/basically anything that would constitute a visit to a therapist (including OP’s situation).

Someone will always have it worse than you. That doesn’t mean your situation isn’t bad and worth fixing.

Also, your life is in danger in your home country because of who you are. To me that sounds like a picture perfect reason to seek asylum.

That’s true. But this is just a feeling that I have, and I haven’t been able to shake it yet. I believe my situation is really bad because I basically cannot lead a normal life, but I’m also considered privileged in comparison to those people. I have friends from Germany and France who have worked in asylum centers. They also had the same idea as you, but when they told me stories of other refugees that they’ve helped, I felt scared and was like, „Maybe, I don’t really deserve it“ Many thanks for the reply and the validation.

If you were to claim asylum, what would happen if you were turned down? Would you be returned to Iran without finishing your course? (Note: I’ve absolutely no idea what the rules/practices are — this is simply what’s popped into my head.)

Normally yes, but it’s not possible to deport people with negative cases to some countries (many reasons for that). So it doesn’t matter for some citizens. you have political problems? you stay! you haven’t? You stay!

I don’t think anything would happen. I don’t think there’s any way for Iranian authorities to figure out why someone has applied for asylum. The only problem is that seeking asylum and getting rejected might ruin my future chances for getting a student visa and suchlike for other countries.

I am from Germany. I recommend seeking asylum here. There‘s a large well integrated Iranian community here and your homosexuality totally qualifies you for refugee status. You are threatened by death penalty! So far you got lucky but you deserve a life free of this threat.

Wow. Many thanks. Yes, so far I’ve gotten away with it, but I don’t know how long I can do it, I’m always terrified that the law might catch up with me at some point.

Vielen Dank für Ihre Antwort; ich habe mich darüber gefreut und die hat mich dazu befähigt, über Asyl nachzudenken.

Do whatever it takes to get out of a country that’ll execute you for being gay

My father left Iran following the revolution. He is atheist and feared persecution. He fled to Germany and did just fine there but Germans had a bad reputation at the time for how they treated refugees. It’s arguably the same now, but it seems more directed towards Turks, specifically. Nothing drastic but still worth considering. I was just in Germany with my mom, who met my dad in Freiburg. She said that people were significantly nicer there than when she lived there. I wish you the very best, no matter what you decide.

I don’t have any constructive advice on these topics as I’m not from/living in any of the mentioned countries, but I wanted to say that you write beautifully and sound like an incredibly brave, sincere and impressive intellectual. Just this small blurb of your story acutely touched me. I hope that after you find your way out of Iran, you can one day go back and be a voice for change there as well (idealistic, maybe). Good luck to you – wishing you a beautiful life and adventure (I think it will be).

Thank you so much!! Your comment literally brought tears to my eyes and made my day. Thanks for the encouragement and support. And yes, what you said might sound a bit idealistic, but history has taught me that nothing is impossible.

I would apply for a work visa in another country. If you’re fluent in German and go to school there then while you’re going to school you can talk to the college about internships at local companies and potential visa sponsorships. The STEM field is a great field to go into because a lot of companies are international and hire foreigners all the time. I would suggest you find an LGBT support group in the country you plan on living in. I don’t know much about Germany, but I do know Canada and America have a large LGBT community and many LGBT charities dedicated to helping homosexuals succeed in the workplace and get out of potentially dangerous situations. That would probably be your best bet in finding a lawyer, sponsor, or employer that would give you the answers and tools you need to get a work visa in your country of choice.

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