1 July 2012

Cameroon: Gay Man Faces Deportation, Says Life Is in Danger at Home

Photo: Quotidien Mutations
How balance is the justice system in Cameroon?

Valéry Ediage Ekwedde, a Cameroonian gay man who has failed to obtain refugee status in the UK, says he will be deported to Douala on Tuesday. Ekwedde, who is being held at a detention centre for illegal migrants in Harmondsworth, outside Heathrow airport, says he will be persecuted if he returns to Cameroon.

"If I go back there, my life is really in danger," Ekwedde told RFI in a phone interview. "I feel very bad and depressed about it because my life is in danger. They will kill me over there."

Campaigners have mounted a campaign to prevent the deportation of 26 year old Ekwedde, noting that homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon. Thirteen people have been arrested since March 2011 under a law criminalizing "sexual relations with a person of the same sex," according to Amnesty International.

The rights group says that most were targeted on the grounds of their "perceived sexual orientation" - not any alleged participation in prohibited consensual acts.

The UK Border Agency has said that it has not found "credible evidence" that Ekwedde is gay. It first sought to expel him in May. But Ekwedde remained in the UK after he threatened to disrupt the Air France flight that was supposed to take him to Yaoundé via Paris.

Under international law, captains have the right to turn away passengers they think might affect the safety of a flight.

The 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."

The report says that wardens and local NGOs have reported rapes among inmates.

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