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Activists tell UK: Don't send Cameroon lesbian refugee to possible death

A lesbian asylum seekers is to be deported tonight back to Cameroon, where she risks violence, possible imprisonment and death
Yarls Wood Detention Centre where many lesbian asylum seekers are held behind barbed wires

Alice Nji, a lesbian asylum seeker is to be deported tonight to Cameroon, a country from which she fled facing anti-gay violence.

Nji is to be put on a flight to Cameroon, tonight (16 October) at 22.45hrs on a Virgin Atlantic flight no. VS657, from Heathrow T3, London.

Nji is a 40-year-old lesbian from Cameroon where she has been beaten up, wounded and traumatized by an anti-gay mob.

Her wounds and mental trauma were so severe that she had to be hospitalized for over two weeks.

Four years ago Nji fled to the UK hoping to find a safe haven.

The reality, however, was very different; her asylum claim had been refused because the Home Office does not believe she is gay.

This despite hearing detailed accounts from Nji’s long-term partner and her own experience of anti-gay bullying.

Instead of finding a welcoming country and a place a refuge, Nji experienced the United Kingdom’s harsh attitude to LGBT asylum seekers, finding herself behind razor wires in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, awaiting deportation.

After screaming, shouting and kicking she managed to avoid five attempts by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) to put her on separate flights in order to deport her.

According to GayAsylumUK, a UK based charity, three of these flights were especially chartered planes by the UKBA, each costing the tax-payers tens of thousands of pounds.

Nji had previously complained: ‘The UKBA allows a pastor to operate who constantly uses derogatory words and prayers against LGBT people. The UKBA is responsible for allowing this pastor to whip up homophobia and it knows that this is just the tip of the iceberg of the tortures we will be exposed to if we are deported from Britain.

‘These include violence, rape, extortion and other forms of sexual assault particularly if imprisoned if following been forcefully returned to these hostile homophobic environments.

‘We are particularly at danger of being killed as we will not be able to get protection from the governments of our countries who already criminalize our sexual orientation.’

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender carries huge risks in Cameroon; same-sex sexual acts are illegal under section 347 of the penal code with a penalty of five years imprisonment and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 Cameroon Francs (about €300 $375). If the offender is under the age of 21 a more severe punishment is likely.

In 2010 four non-governmental organizations published a detailed report outlining the legal and social dangers that LGBT people face in Cameroon, including arrest, rape, loss of their children, social stigma and discrimination based on both sexuality and HIV status.

The report and the level of homophobic campaigns launched by the church and media indicate that Cameroon is one of the most hostile countries in Africa for LGBT people.

Speaking with GayStarNews, Omar Kuddus, chair of GayAsylumUK, said: ‘This is a direct contradiction of David Cameron's pledge in 2010 who said that: “those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK".

‘To what length does a person have to go to prove he or she is gay?

‘The UKBA must realize that they are playing with lives and as such must show compassion and understanding.’

Kuddus is asking readers to ring Virgin Headquarters tel. 0844 8110 000 and demand that the company refuses to let Nji board the flight.

Kuddus also noted that readers can call the UK Home Office minister, Theresa May, at +44 20 7219 5206 and demand that Nji should not be deported back to Cameroon where she faces extreme danger.

In addition the Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) will be holding a demonstration tomorrow (17 October) in Croydon, London calling upon the UK government to stop the deportations and free the women of Yarls wood.

The demonstration will take place at 1pm in front of the UKBA Lunar House, 40 Wellesley Road, Croydon CR9 2BY.

Participants will be assembling at the West Croydon station between 12.15 to 12.30pm.

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