UK: Gay man fights deportation to Nigeria

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Campaigners are fighting to stop the deportation of a gay man to Nigeria.

Olamiekan Ayelokun claims he fled the country eight years ago to escape homophobic persecution.

Speaking to the Independent last night from Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, Mr Ayelokun said: “I feel terrible, traumatised. I am very afraid they are going to kill me in Nigeria.”

The LGBT campaign organisation AllOut has begun an online petition to halt the deportation, pointing out that David Cameron said in 2010 that gay refugees from Africa should be granted asylum if they had a “well-founded fear of persecution”.

Mr Ayelokun has been trying to stay in the UK ever since his visa expired in 2003.

However, a removal order was made by a judge at Bradford’s immigration court, who refused to believe that Mr Ayelokun is gay, despite the testimony of former boyfriends.

His lawyers believe the removal of Mr Ayelokun could happen within the next few days and have applied for the case to be heard at the High Court.

The UK Border Agency said that Mr Ayelokun had lived illegally in the UK since 2003 and had only claimed asylum last year.

A spokesman added: “At no point has he been able to provide sufficient evidence of his sexuality and our decision not to grant him asylum has been upheld by an independent immigration judge.”

Yesterday, campaigners demonstrated in front of the Home Office to demand a halt to the policy of detaining and deporting gay men and lesbians back to African countries.

The maximum punishment for same-sex sexual activity in Nigeria is 14 years’ in jail; in regions under Sharia law this can include a sentence of death by stoning.

In May of this year, Michael Cashman MEP and co-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT Rights called on the country to abolish its draconian anti-gay laws and said: “Nigeria is already among the world’s top oppressors of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.

Nigerian lawmakers have also proposed to issue jail terms of 14 years for couples who seek to stage same-sex marriage ceremonies.