A gay Nigerian man has been deported from the UK despite a concerted campaign to grant the man asylum and a call for clear guidelines on claims based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Olalekan M. Ayelokun, known as Ola, was deported on a chartered flight from the UK on Wednesday, October 10 despite hundreds of calls and emails to the British Home Office in an effort to reverse the decision.
David Cameron said, in 2010, that it is wrong to send gay people back to countries where police would imprison, torture, or kill them for who they are.
“If you have a legitimate fear of persecution, that it seems to me that is a perfectly legitimate reason to stay,” he said.
Several friends and lovers of Ayelokun, including a member of the British civil service, had given extensive testimony supporting his assertion that he is an openly gay man. But, in the absence of specific guidelines on how to handle such claims, the judge had the discretion to reject that claim.
In Nigeria, the maximum sentence for homosexuality is 14 years in prison.
“I feel terrible, traumatised. I am very afraid they are going to kill me in Nigeria,” Ayelokun said in a statement.
AllOut.org executive director and co-founder Andre Banks, who helped campaign for Ayelokun’s asylum claim, said the Home Office should be setting fair standards so that asylum seekers aren’t denied protection because of “thinly-veiled homophobia”.
“Ola’s case shows that if you are fleeing persecution, you can never be ‘gay enough’ to be granted asylum in the UK,” Banks said.
“The judge in this case has actively rejected evidence provided by Ola’s solicitor that proves he is gay and now he is on his way to a country where who he loves could land him in jail – or worse.”