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Report: UK-Cameroon

UK court suspends Cameroonian gay man's deportation

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The High Court in London has granted an injunction suspending the deportation of a Cameroonian gay man who says he will be persecuted if he is sent back home.

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Valérie Ediage Ekwedde, 26, is seeking refugee status in the UK, where he has been living since November.

The UK Border Agency, which is part of the Home Office, has twice attempted to deport Ekwedde, now being held at a detention centre for illegal migrants in Harmondsworth, near Heathrow airport.

Ekwedde was scheduled to fly back to Cameroon yesterday. But he went instead to the High Court where his sollicitor, Hani Zubeidi, argued that the Home Office had made an "irrational and unreasonable decision" when it chose to deport him.

Zubeidi says that his client risks persecution if he goes to Cameroon.

"Following the deportation action against him, there has been vast media coverage across the globe with regard to Valérie and his plight,"  Zuneidi said. "His plight is also reported in a Cameroonian newspaper, explaining that a homosexual is on his way back to Cameroon."

Ekwedde says he's delighted with the injunction. "I'm very happy," Ekwedde said in an interview with RFI, " but I'm still in the immigration removal centre."

Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon where 13 people have been arrested since March 2011 under a law criminalizing “sexual relations with a person of the same sex,” according to Amnesty International, which has supported Ekwedde's application.

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.

Contacted by RFI, the UK Border Agency has declined to comment, saying it does not make public statements on individual cases.

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