A lesbian woman living in the Birmingham area, England, had a last-minute judicial reprieve from deportation to Cameroon.
Things took an unexpected turn for Desiree Lieuwo when an application for judicial review was lodged today (19 July). Her removal was originally due tomorrow (20 July).
‘Clearly, it’s a big relief that Desiree’s removal has been halted. Unfortunately, she is just one of many people who receive this sort of treatment from the Home Office,’ Lieuwo’s solicitor Tamzin Walton told GSN.
Culture of disbelief towards LGBTI asylum seekers
‘My client is a much-loved member of the LGBTI community in Wolverhampton where she has many staunch supporters. The compelling new evidence we provided to the Home Office in support of her case was certainly sufficient to meet the test for a fresh asylum claim.’
She then added: ‘Sadly the approach that the Home Office is taking in my client’s case is not unusual.
‘The ease with which they dismissed my client’s submissions is yet another example of the culture of disbelief that exists in the Home Office towards LGBTI asylum seekers in general.’
‘Desiree has been under such stress’
STOP THE DEPORTATION OF DESIREE LIEUWOUPDATE: PERMISSION FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW GRANTED BUT KEEP UP PRESSURE ON AIR FRANCE…
‘None of it stops how terribly distressed she feels. The impact of this experience is huge for her,’ a friend of Lieuwo’s told GSN.
Bryony Louisa met Lieuwo through a support group for LBT asylum-seeking women.
‘Desiree has been under such terrible stress, refused medication for blood pressure at internment place. In theory, she should not be sent [back] but it’s still unclear.’
Will the deportation to Cameroon take place?
‘My understanding is that the judicial review is now pending, but by agreeing she can have one, she has the ability to present her case,’ Bryony Louisa also said.
‘The first court case they didn’t believe Desiree was in a relationship. Most LGBTI people don’t have partners from my limited experience but she did and they still said she’s not a lesbian,’ she continued.
Louisa had organized a picket at Heathrow airport, from where the Air France flight back to Cameroon is departing tomorrow morning.
LGBTI rights in Cameroon
If sent back to Cameroon, Lieuwo risks up to death penalty or 5 years imprisonment as both female and male same-sex sexual activity is illegal in the central African country.
Cameroon’s first Penal Code, enacted in 1965, did not criminalise consensual same-sex sexual acts. In September 1972, an Ordinance by President Ahmadou Ahidjo introduced Article 347bis.
A more recent Law on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime also criminalizes online same-sex sexual propositions.
‘Desiree should not be sent back to Cameroon to be imprisoned and tortured,’ Eleanor Smith MP told GSN.
She has been the Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton South West since the 2017 general election.
‘Cameroon has an appalling record on LGBTI human rights and I am glad she is not being deported tomorrow. My office is now working on getting Desiree released from detention.’