26 September 2016
The Green Party has branded the threat to deport gay Cameroonian Ediage Valerie Ekwedde “sickening” and urged the Home Office to rethink its priorities.
Valerie came to the UK in November 2011 after facing violence and criminalisation because of his sexuality. Since then he has faced a long battle to remain. The UK government threatened to deport him in 2012, but Air France failed to fly him back to Cameroon after a pilot refused to fly with him on board.
But Valerie recently received a letter informing him he must leave immediately or faces deportation.
Valerie, 31, is a well-valued member of his local community, having been a member of Coventry and Warwickshire Friend LGBTIQ group for the last four years. He helped establish an ‘Out in the UK’ group in Coventry to support other LGBTIQ asylum seekers . Valerie has been in a relationship for two years.
“I couldn’t even believe what I saw when I got the letter. I think I will get killed if I go back to Cameroon.
“I am scared of prosecution and being attacked by everyone.
“When I was living in Cameroon I wasn’t living as who I am, I was living in hiding and total fear.
“That’s changed a lot since coming to the UK because I am free to express my sexuality.
“I feel very depressed about the possibility of having to go back to Cameroon.”
The letter from the Home Office states:
“You have no basis to continue to stay in the United Kingdom and you are expected to make arrangements to leave the United Kingdom without delay … if you do not leave the United Kingdom as required you will be liable to enforced removal to Cameroon.”
Co-Leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley said:
“The Home Office’s refusal to grant asylum to Valerie, who has fled persecution and discrimination in Cameroon, is sickening and calls into serious question Theresa May’s commitment to upholding LGBTIQ rights in the UK and abroad.
“The removal of LGBTIQ asylum seekers from the UK shames us all. As a nation which claims to celebrate diversity, we should always be willing to ensure there is a safe haven to those at risk of persecution because of who they are."
“The Home Office should urgently grant Valerie leave to remain.”
A 2011 US state department human rights report found that homosexuals in Cameroon face "pervasive societal stigma, discrimination and harassment, as well as the possibility of imprisonment”, and in 2010 The Supreme Court heard that in Cameroon jail sentences for homosexuality ranged from six months to five years.
Green Party Equalities (LGBTIQ) Spokesperson, Aimee Challenor said:
“It is appalling that the Government are even considering deporting Valerie to a country where he will be in immediate danger. Cameroon has a long history of homophobia; it would be almost certain that Valerie would face persecution on his return. The Government has a social and moral duty to keep him safe, which means granting him leave to remain.
“The proposal to ship Valerie out of Britain is the product of our inhumane immigration system which sees people as numbers and forgets that everyone seeking to live here or to move abroad is a human being. We urge the Home Office to seriously reconsider its approach not only in this individual case but its treatment of migrants in the round.”
The Green Party is calling on the government to rethink its asylum, refugee, and immigration policy so that it is in line with the UN Declaration of Human Rights and to introduce an immediate ban on the deportation of LGBTIQ refugees until that review is complete.
Otherwise, the party argues, the lives of LGBTIQ refugees will continue to be put in grave danger by the actions of our government.
You can sign the petition in support of Valerie, here.