Gay Iranian Poet Seeking Asylum in Israel Gets Visa Extended

Payam Feili formally requested asylum in February, citing persecution and mistreatment in Iran.

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Iranian poet and novelist Payam Feili.
Iranian poet and novelist Payam Feili.

Payam Feili, a gay Iranian poet currently seeking asylum in Israel, has had his visa extended through October, according to reports.

Feili arrived in Israel at the end of 2015 from Turkey, where he was staying after fleeing Iran due to persecution in the form of repeated arrests and detentions for his writings, his thoughts on Israel and his identity as a gay man.

The poet formerly requested asylum in Israel in February so he could stay in the country he told the Associated Press he "fell in love with."

"With the help of my friends I can establish a simple life here," he told The Israel Project. "I don't need any help from any government, be it Israeli or not."

Feili has written nine books, many of them openly discussing homosexuality. His novella, which is being produced in Israel by Ido Dagan, portrays the unrequited love of two Iranian soldiers fighting in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s.

“The main problem with the Islamic Republic of Iran is that they don’t even want you to talk about your personal identity,” he said. “The Islamic Republic of Iran grants you an identity as a Shi'a person, a person who hates the whole world, and they want you to adopt that as your identity and nothing else.”

Feili also said he believed that recent elections in Iran, which saw significant gains for moderate politicians in the country, would do little to change the reality on the ground for minorities.

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