UK - Nearly 2,000 people have signed an online petition to support a gay Nigerian asylum seeker, who fears he might be killed if deported.
Olamiekan Ayelokun claimed he fled Nigeria eight years ago to escape persecution because of his sexual orientation.
However, a judge at Bradford’s Immigration Court has stated that he is not convinced Ayelokun is gay and ordered him to be deported last week.
The 28-year-old was supposed to have been sent back to Nigeria on October 3. However, that decision has been delayed until further notice.
A friend of Ayelokun’s, Jason Feather, who started the petition, says: “I have been told that the Nigerian authorities do monitor international news. If he was to be taken to Nigeria now the authorities would know he is a gay man. In the south, he would get up to 14 years in prison and in the north where Sharia law is practised he might killed.”
More than 1,700 people have so far signed the petition asking immigration officials to change their minds. The petition is on change.org.
The UK Border Agency said Ayelokun, a nursing student who now resides in Bradford, had lived in the UK illegally having overstayed a visitors’ visa that expired in 2003.
He had made an application to stay in the country in 2011, and at that point he was required to sign every week. But Ayelokun was detained on September 25th after a routine appointment at the UK Border Agency’s Waterside Court offices in Leeds.
His friends and supporters are now hoping immigration officials will not go ahead with the deportation.
They argued that UK immigration officials were breaching the European Convention on Human Rights by “sending someone to a situation where he or she has a ‘real risk’ of being subjected to ‘torture or an inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’”
Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell is also supporting Ayelokun. He says: “Regardless of his past mistakes, Ola should be given asylum on the grounds that, if he is returned to Nigeria, he will be at serious risk of homophobic persecution.”
Tatchell argued that “it is outrageous for any judge to suggest that a person who has a number of gay relationships is not gay. This case is further evidence of the way Britain asylum system abuses refugees. The system is rigged to fail as many asylum seekers as possible regardless of their individual merit.”
He added: “The coalition government is not living up to its pledge to provide a safe haven for gay Africans who face victimisation. It is a betrayal of (Prime Minister) David Cameron’s pledge.”