A Nigerian asylum seeker has said he would ‘prefer dying’ than being deported back to his home country from the UK in two days time.
John Abraham, 25, is currently in Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow airport, west London and is due to be deported to Nigeria on 8 March.
He told Gay Star News that an article on our site was his last hope to avoid being sent back where he fears he will face persecution and physical attack.
And he asked us to identify him as he said the danger to his safety would be no greater if he was deported – as everyone in his community in Nigeria already knows he is gay.
Abraham said: ‘I left Nigeria in 2008 and came to Britain to study business administration.
‘But while I was here I introduced my boyfriend to my cousin and she told my family. My father is a pastor and my family has abandoned me and now the whole community knows.
‘I would be sent back if I was attacked and persecuted but I also wouldn’t have any life as a gay man. I would prefer dying to going back.’
Abraham said he also had a male partner in Nigeria too, as a 19 to 20-year-old student, but his sexuality was not known by others at that time.
Despite his current partner attending court with him, asylum judges and officials have refused to accept he is gay, Abraham claims.
His case was further complicated by his arrest for ‘handling stolen goods’, which he says was actually an innocent mistake as he was trying to help his friend.
Bisi Alimi, who is Africa director of international LGBT charity Kaleidoscope and from Nigeria himself said that he had met Abraham’s boyfriend and several other friends and believed him to be a genuine gay asylum seeker.
But he said the UK asylum system struggled due to stereotyped understanding of what lesbian and gay people looked like.
Alimi added: ‘There is no framework in this country to allow people to prove their sexuality which is a flaw to the system. If you don’t know what you need to do you stand the chance of losing your case.’
He said that Kaleidoscope hoped to work with the Home Office to improve their policies, procedures and training.
Meanwhile he warned against sending Abraham back to Nigeria, where homosexuality is criminalized.
He said: ‘The situation in Nigeria is really bad. There is very strong, aggressive, hate coming from there. We get reports even now of gay people being the victims of police brutality and being harassed and abused by the community.’