Updated to add: NCADC say Baffour has 13 June removal directions
Updated to add: 13 June removal now cancelled
In May 2010 , Stonewall published the report No Going Back: Lesbian and gay people and the asylum system. It found almost systemic homophobia in the UK asylum system resulting in legitimate lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers regularly being refused sanctuary.
Baffour Obeng is one of those people refused sanctuary. He has committed no crime, but is imprisoned in the UK after being refused asylum. He is facing forced removal to Ghana, where homosexuality is a crime and where, as the Home Office admitted to Baffour, there would be "no protection available if you were to experience problems on account of your sexuality."
Baffour is a bisexual man from Ghana. He traveled to the Europe in 2005 with his father, who has Dutch citizenship, both escaping a particularly violent inter-family chieftaincy dispute which claimed the lives of four people.
For the first time, in Europe Baffour was able to be open about his sexuality, and began a relationship with another man. In Ghana, this would have been extremely dangerous, as well as being illegal. However, his coming out also led his father and family to abandon him. Baffour thinks his father has returned to Ghana, but is unable to contact any of his family any more; they will not speak to him.
With no documentation of his father's European citizenship, which would have allowed Baffour the right to stay in the UK, he is now locked up in a detention centre and facing forced removal from the UK. Baffour is terrified of this. Friends in Ghana have warned him that his "secret" is out, and that it would be very dangerous to return to Ghana.
The situation for gay and bisexual people in Ghana is not good. Ghana's criminal code includes a law - inherited from British colonial rule - that makes any homosexual act a criminal offence. There have been increasing attacks on gay and lesbian people recently, and Baffour's friends have told him of "disappearances" that ever knows are murders.
The US Department of State human rights report, published March 2010, warns that in Ghana " LGBT persons face widespread discrimination, as well as police harassment and extortion attempts. Gay men in prison are often subjected to sexual and other physical abuse. The law makes consenting homosexual acts a misdemeanor, and strong sociocultural beliefs discriminate against and stigmatize same gender sex."
In April of this year, Baffour's application for sanctuary was refused. He was put through the notorious fast-track system, which means he has no right of appeal in the UK.
He was refused under the widely criticized rule that he can avoid persecution by the state or attacks from the community by relocating to another part of the country and being "discrete" about his sexuality.
The new UK Government has stated that they will "stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution."
The new Home Secretary must act now to stop the deportation of people like Baffour whose claims have been rushed through a system found to be institutionally homophobic, and have been denied protection because of discredited, unjust caselaw.
Act now to save Baffour
Baffour needs your help. Please write to the Home Secretary and ask that she acts upon the government's committment to protect LGBT asylum seekers from deportation back to danger.
You can download a model letter here, and amend or write your own. Always remember to quote the Home Office reference number O1122380.
Fax and email the Home Secretary your support for Baffour to have sanctuary in the UK
fax or email to:
Theresa May MP (Home Secretary) -
Fax: 020 8760 3132
(00 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)
Please let the campaign know of any action you take. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, 1 June 2010