Iranian lesbian could find refuge in Italy

Italian politicians said Rome could grant asylum to an Iranian lesbian who faces deportation from Britain and a possible death sentence back home. Gay rights activists planned a protest Monday against London's decision to send her back to Iran. Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, who fled to Britain from Iran in 2005 after her partner was arrested and tortured, is due to be expelled this week after her bid for residency was rejected, according to a British advocacy group. Supporters in Britain are lobbying immigration authorities to show leniency, while activists in San Francisco have met with British representatives to press Emambakhsh's claim for asylum. "If returned to Iran, she faces certain imprisonment, likely severe lashings and possibly even stoning to death. Her crime in Iran is her sexual orientation," said Peter Tatchell, of London-based gay rights charity OutRage. Arcigay, Italy's main gay rights group, planned to protest in front of Britain's embassy in the capital later Monday and called on Premier Romano Prodi's government to formally offer Emambakhsh asylum.