Friday, 11 June 2010

Flight cancelled for Baffour Obeng

By Simon Lewis

Ghanaian asylum seeker Baffour Obeng was due to be removed on Sunday, until he received a fax on Thursday from the Home Office. It said that his ticket back to Ghana has been cancelled and his case would be looked at again.

It could only have been the campaign generated by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns which secured the cancellation. Petitions, letters and emails to the Home Office appear to have made it reconsider its position that that "the independent courts found that the claim was totally without merit".

The news was welcomed by his aunt Pauline Boachie, who lives in Edmonton Green, North London. She said: "We need to say thank you to all the people. A lot of people have been really helpful."

But, said Pauline, "The battle is not over." The Home Office have said that a new decision is imminent, but at the moment Baffour is without representation and needs to secure legal aid. Baffour is still being detained at Colnbrook detention centre at Heathrow and could recieve as little as 72 hours warning if he gets another removal order.

Baffour, 23, is bisexual, and has been abandoned by much of his family. In Ghana homosexuality is against the law and a recent march suggests that anti-gay sentiment is rising in the country, as elsewhere in West Africa.

Baffour has received specific warnings that his life is in danger if he returns, but he was told by the Home Office to move to another part of Ghana and be discreet about his sexuality. In light of the coalition government's commitment to stop deporting people fleeing persecution for their sexuality, and a pending Supreme Court decision, Baffour could become a test case for a new approach to LGBT asylum.

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