|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
Joseph was not removed this morning. He told UK Gay News “Air France refused to allow me to board.”
Joseph Kuate is a homosexual asylum seeker from Cameroon. He is going to be removed tomorrow (Saturday 6 August), at 7.35am on flight AF1081 Heathrow to Charles de Gaul and then AF900 Charles de Gaul to Yaounde. There is still time to make a difference if we act urgently.
We have decided to focus on Air France, the airline being used to transport Joseph to Cameroon, via Paris. In the last week two Air France pilots have refused to fly deportees from the UK. This is encouraging. Contacting the captains is the best chance we have of stopping Joseph's imminent removal.
Joseph claimed asylum in the UK last year. A homosexual, in Cameroon Joseph suffered under the repressive force of a homophobic society. His family rejected him, he was arbitrarily arrested and beaten, and last year his partner was sentenced to six years in prison. He managed to escape to the UK, via Nigeria. Joseph's asylum claim was refused because the Border Agency do not accept that Joseph is homosexual. This is a standard response given to homosexual asylum seekers.
Since discovering his homosexuality as a teenager Joseph has had trouble with his family, his neighbours, and the law. None of his remaining family wants him to be a part of their lives. He has been arrested twice in 2005 and 2006. The first time he was beaten and suffered degrading treatment. Both times he was forced to pay a bribe for his freedom. Finally, in 2010, his partner was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison. The authorities knew that he had been in a relationship with Joseph. For that reason he came to the UK, where he claimed asylum. He has been living in Cardiff.
Homosexuality is against the law in Cameroon. The United States Department of State Human Rights Report 2009 noted that as well as “pervasive societal stigma, discrimination and harassment, as well as the possibility of imprisonment,” homosexuals in Cameroon suffer from “harassment and extortion by law enforcement officials.” This is what Joseph has lived with, and what he can expect if he is returned. The prospect of being removed is causing him considerable distress and, as he suffers from high blood pressure, is putting his health at risk.
Joseph should not be returned to a society that seeks to beat, bully and imprison him because of his sexuality. Nor can he be expected to return to Cameroon and deny his sexuality, hoping to avoid the authorities discovering him. Please join our campaign against Joseph's forced removal.
What you can do:
Download and fax this letter (with your details added) to Air France as soon as you can. The fax number is 0141 56 70 29 (UK) 0208 782 8115. Alternatively, you could call customer services on 0871 66 33 777 to complain about the removal.
Please remember to include Joseph's Home Office reference number (K1325219).
There are a number of free services which allow you to send faxes over the internet - such as this one.