Home Office defends deportation of gay asylum seeker to Cameroon

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The Home Office has defended the pending deportation of a gay asylum seeker to Cameroon, as the department is criticised by a senior judge for its fast track detention system.

Rodrigue Kanko Signe, 28, fled to Britain in March 2013.

It’s alleged he suffered years of persecution by the authorities and “anti-gay mobs” because of his sexual orientation in Cameroon.

The 28-year-old was arrested and detained at the Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre in March this year – his deportation is currently pending.

Human rights groups, MPs and lawyers have frequently documented alleged cases of the Home Office deporting LGBT asylum seekers back to countries such as Cameroon where they face violence.

Yesterday, the High Court ruled that fast track detention, a system used to process the vast majority of LGBT asylum cases, was “unlawful”.

Decisions to deport are often made before a claimant’s legal appeal has been fully exhausted.

Mr Justice Ouseley said the system carries an “unacceptably high risk of unfairness.”

Edwin Sesange, director of the UK-based African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group, said: “We welcome this ruling, we now urge the UK Government to reform the asylum system.

“The fast track system has been disadvantageous to LGBTI asylum seekers”.

But the Home Office has defended its policy on LGBT asylum.

A Home Office spokesperson told PinkNews.co.uk: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we do not remove anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality.

“We provide dedicated guidance and training to those dealing with such asylum claims and all applications are carefully considered in line with our international obligations.

“We worked closely with organisations such as Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to develop this guidance and training and we continue to liaise with them to consider what further improvements can be made.

“We believe those who fail to establish a genuine fear of persecution should return home. If they do not do so voluntarily, we will seek to enforce their removal”

Earlier this month, Conservative minister Baroness Susan Williams admitted that the UK Government did not know how many asylum claims from Uganda were made on the basis of sexual orientation.

A review of UK LGBT asylum policy by Sir John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, will be published in July.