John 'Bosco' Nyombi refused to board his plane yesterday morning.
The 38-year-old was due to fly from Gatwick Airport at 6.40am but the plane took off without him leaving him with the immigration services.
Campaigners have been trying to save John from being sent back to the East African country where they fear he will be persecuted because of his sexuality.
Neil Pugmire, a spokesman from the Diocese of Portsmouth, said: “We received a telephone call from John on a landline in Gatwick Airport telling me he had refused to get on the plane and that they had accepted that decision.
“He’s still being held at Gatwick Airport. I imagine that the immigration services are looking for a detention centre that they can take him to. That, we hope, will buy us some time for his solicitor to take some legal action – an injunction or a judicial review.”
A number of friends, work colleagues and campaigners also travelled up to the airport this morning to protest at his forced departure.
Colleagues at Stonham Housing Association, where he has worked almost since his arrival, launched a campaign and a petition, which they plan to send to the Home Office.
But Neil added that there had been no last minute review of his deportation from the government.
Michael Woolley, the coordinator of the Haslar Visitors’ Group that represents the interests of asylum seekers, said: “The way these arrests are carried out is disgraceful, without any chance to put affairs in order.
“John has signed regularly at a police station for years, and there is no reason to think he would abscond. Yet he was given no notice, no opportunity to pack a bag, to say goodbye to his friends or to sell his car.”
Bosco has been working with mentally ill people in the city for the past six years while his application to stay in the UK has been heard by the immigration authorities.
He fled to the UK from Uganda where homosexuality is illegal and carries a punishment of life in prison.
Bosco, as he is known, was also told his life could be in danger, after his brother, a high profile opposition campaigner, was murdered.
He was unexpectedly taken into custody this week after his last appeal was refused.