Gay Iranian poet seeking Israel asylum gets visa extension
search
'I wasn’t looking for a place where I can have an easy life... (but) this is a liberal country where minorities are supported'

Gay Iranian poet seeking Israel asylum gets visa extension

Payam Feili is confident he will be able stay in the Jewish state long term, though he hasn’t met with any Israeli officials

Luke Tress is a video journalist and tech reporter for the Times of Israel

Payam Feili (left), with a translator, in Jerusalem on February 29, 2016 (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Payam Feili (left), with a translator, in Jerusalem on February 29, 2016 (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

Payam Feili, a gay Iranian poet seeking asylum in Israel, told journalists Monday in Jerusalem that his visa has been extended until October after his current one was set to expire.

“I’m planning my life as if I will stay here long term,” he said, speaking through a translator at the office of the advocacy group The Israel Project. “With the help of my friends I can establish a simple life here. I don’t need any help from any government, be it Israeli or not.”

He said he has not met with any officials, but is confident that he will be allowed to remain in Israel.

Faced with persecution over his sexuality and censorship, Feili fled his native Iran in 2014 for Turkey before coming to Israel. He came to Israel late last year to see his latest novella, “I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit … Figs,” staged as a play in Hebrew in Tel Aviv.

Feili, who has written nine books, has not been able to publish his work in Iran.

Payam Feili in Jerusalem on February 29, 2016 (Photo by Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
Payam Feili in Jerusalem on February 29, 2016 (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

 

Feili blamed both the Iranian government and society in general for his persecution, but said the regime is responsible for teaching intolerance.

“The main problem with the Islamic Republic of Iran is that they don’t even want you to talk about your personal identity,” said Feili, who sports a Star of David tattooed on his neck. “The Islamic Republic of Iran grants you an identity as a Shia person, a person who hates the whole world, and they want you to adopt that as your identity and nothing else.”

He said he does not expect the recent elections to change the situation in his home country.

“It’s not going to result in a reform that is going to change the direction of society,” he said. “I have no intention of returning to Iran following the election.”

Feili said he recognizes the hardships of living in Israel, but does not regret the move.

“From the beginning, I wasn’t looking for a place where I can have an easy life,” he said. “I do understand that this is a liberal country where minorities are supported and endorsed.”

Feili said his family has been mostly supportive of leaving Iran but that they have come under pressure due to his move to Israel. He added that he didn’t think the regime is a danger to them.

Join us!
A message from the Editor of Times of Israel
David Horovitz

The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.

We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.

Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.

Become a member of The Times of Israel Community
read more:
comments