Asylum campaigners to protest in Cardiff

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

A campaign group who want to overturn the decision to deport a gay asylum seeker will protest in Cardiff tomorrow, the day of the city’s Pride event.

The ‘Keep Babi Safe in Cardiff’ anti-deportation campaign will be holding a demonstration by the Aneurin Bevan statue on Queen Street, Cardiff.

Babakhan Badalov (Babi) from Azerbaijan arrived in the UK in 2006 claiming he was repressed and persecuted in his home country.

Azerbaijan legalised homosexuality in 2000.

However, the Muslim country is still a very conservative society and homosexuality remains an extremely taboo subject.

The 49 year-old internationally-renowned poet and artist said his work got him into trouble with the law.

He was often critical of the government and members of the regime.

He claims his sexual orientation also caused him both physical and mental grief and he endured years of bullying.

Babi’s family’s denial of his sexual orientation even led to one of his brothers threatening to kill him as he had shamed the family.

After fleeing to the UK, Babi was detained in four different detention centres for thirty-two days before being moved to Cardiff.

As a result of the beatings and bullying, Babi has only eight teeth remaining and faces a number of mental health problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, suicidal tendencies and insomnia.

“Like most gay people who have claimed asylum because the persecution they have experienced Babi’s claim for asylum has not been successful,” said a campaign spokesperson.

“Sexuality, for the Home Office, is for the most part dismissed as adequate grounds for being granted asylum.

“The Home Office policy line with respect to gay asylum applicants is that because gay people are not necessarily visible they can therefore live ‘normal’ lives by being ‘discreet’ about their sexualities.”

Tony Williams from No Borders South Wales, who are helping coordinate Babi’s campaign, said:

“The way that the government treats people who have claimed asylum because of their sexuality is appalling. Even those that it believes have suffered terrible homophobic persecution are regularly forcibly deported back to the countries they have fled.

“They are told that they should go and live in another part of the country and to keep their sexuality a secret. This risky strategy forces people to live a life in the shadows, hiding their sexuality and praying that no one finds them out.”

Babi, whose work will be exhibited in Cardiff’s TactileBOSCH studio on 27 September, said he is deeply upset that he has been refused asylum.

“I am very sad,” he said.

“I feel very stressed. Every time I have to sign I am scared that I will be taken and put in a detention centre again. I am scared what might happen me if I go back. I can not go back. I will die if I go back.”

The UK asylum system has been under increasing pressure and is seen as falling below the standards of a civilised nation.

A recent 12-member Independent Asylum Commission said that it failed to give sanctuary to people who genuinely need it.

Lord Ramsbotham, a former chief inspector of prisons, told the BBC:

“We are concerned at the level of the treatment of children, the treatment of women, the treatment of those with health needs, particularly mental health needs, torture survivors.”

The Home Secretary came under fire earlier this year when she stated In a letter to Lib Dem peer Lord Roberts of Llandudno:

“With … regard to Iran, current case law handed down by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal concludes that the evidence does not show a real risk of discovery of, or adverse action against gay and lesbian people who are discreet about their sexual orientation.”