Peter Tatchell: UK Government broke promise, is still deporting gay asylum seekers

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Peter Tatchell is calling on the government and the UK Border Agency to stop deporting LGBT asylum seekers back to homophobic countries.

The veteran human rights campaigner has accused David Cameron of breaking his promise and has cited several examples from the past few weeks.

In a statement, Mr Tatchell said: “Traumatised refugees who have fled homophobic intimidation and violence should not be subjected to removal to countries where they are at risk of discrimination, harassment, assault, arrest, imprisonment, torture and murder.

“These deportations violate David Cameron’s and Nick Clegg’s commitment to a fairer deal for LGBT refugees fleeing homophobic and transphobic persecution”.

Mr Tatchell gave examples of the UK Border Agency failing in its commitment to provide legal protection, and said:

“I have been working with a Malawian lesbian refugee, Esther C. She was scheduled for deportation twice, despite seeking a judicial review of the decision to refuse her asylum.

“What kind of justice system attempts to deport people before their cases are heard? Esther has now won a last minute reprieve but this was only due to a determined campaign to save her from deportation”.

Mr Tatchell also gave another example of a case involving Alice Nji, whose asylum claim had been dismissed on the grounds that she and her female partner had not done enough to prove her sexuality.

His statement also went on to give a third example, querying:

“Just over two weeks ago, a masculine gay Nigerian man, Olalekan M Ayelokun (Ola), who provided testimonies of his homosexuality from male sexual partners, was deported after a judge refused to believe he was gay. What else is he supposed to do to prove his homosexuality?”

Rakshita Patel, Asylum Casework Officer with the Peter Tatchell Foundation, also said in the statement:

“These people have come to the UK expecting a safe haven, only to be thrown into a detention centre and treated like a common criminal. When they protest against the appalling way they are treated, they can face punitive action and be subjected to fast-track deportation.

“Many LGBT asylum applicants have poor legal representation. The legal aid system does not provide solicitors with sufficient funds to prepare a proper case. Some are listed for deportation before their appeals or judicial reviews are heard. The asylum system is failing them. They are not being given a fair hearing.

“We are calling on the coalition government to reform the asylum system to end the deportation of LGBT people who have a sincere, well-founded fear of persecution,” she said.

Mr Tatchell said that the coalition government had previously pledged: “We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation.”

He also said that, in 2010, David Cameron had personally promised that: “Those Africans seeking asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and at real risk of persecution in their home countries should be allowed to stay in the UK.”