UK planning to deport gay Nigerian refugee despite protest

Despite a major campaign, the UK reschedules the deportation of gay refugee Olalekan M Ayelokun back to Nigeria where he may face death

UK planning to deport gay Nigerian refugee despite protest
08 October 2012

Last week, LGBT campaign organization AllOut had hundreds of British callers flood the phones of the Home Office demanding a halt to the deportation of a gay Nigerian man and called for clear guidelines for asylum claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite in-person protests, emails, and calls from UK citizens, Olalekan M Ayelokun, known as Ola, is scheduled to be removed from the UK on Wednesday (10 October).

According to unconfirmed reports the UK Border Agency (UKBA) hired a private plane to send him back, costing tax payers tens of thousands of pounds.

The especially chartered plane, according to Ayelokun’s legal representation, is scheduled to leave Stansted Airport, London on Wednesday at 11.20pm, flight no PVT090.

Gay Star News broke the story that Ayelokun’s asylum application was rejected after a judge did not believe he was gay.

Several of his friends and lovers – including a member of the British civil service – had given extensive testimony supporting his assertion that he is an openly gay man.

However, in the absence of specific guidelines on how to handle such claims, the judge had the discretion to reject that claim.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said, in 2010, that it is wrong to send gay people back to countries where police would imprison, torture, or kill them for who they are. He affirmed that: ‘If you have a legitimate fear of persecution, that it seems to me that is a perfectly legitimate reason to stay.’

However, there are increasing reports from lawyers representing individuals seeking asylum based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, like Ayelokun, that judges are refusing to believe their clients are gay or lesbian.

Homosexuality is illegal in the federal system of Nigeria and is punished in different states in varying degrees of severity.

Southern states punishes same-sex acts with up to 14 years imprisonment.

While northern states punish same-sex acts with a minimum of 14 years imprisonment as well as a fine, and in twelve of the northern states punishments include flogging and death by stoning.

Aeylokun said, ‘I feel terrible, traumatised. I am very afraid they are going to kill me in Nigeria.’

AllOut has launched a petition begging Britain not to send Ayelokun, back home where his life will be at risk.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Andre Banks, executive director and co-founder of AllOut.org said: ‘Ola’s case shows that if you are fleeing persecution, you can never be "gay enough" to be granted asylum in the UK.

‘The judge in this case has actively rejected evidence provided by Ola’s solicitor that proves he is gay and now he is due to return to a country where who he loves could land him in jail – or worse.

‘The Home Office can only protect the human rights of asylum seekers by setting fair standards so that people like Ola aren’t denied protection because of thinly-veiled homophobia.’

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