An Azerbaijani artist who is claiming asylum in the UK was detained yesterday at his weekly sign-in at the UK Border Agency Offices in Cardiff.
Babakhan Badalov (Babi), who is gay, arrived in the UK in 2006 claiming he was repressed and persecuted in his home country.
His appeal against the refusal of asylum was rejected at the end of July and has been in the process of filing a fresh claim with new evidence of the danger he would face back in Azerbaijan.
“Alarming new witness statements detailing Babi’s history of violent persecution have also recently came to
light, which would allow him to make a very strong fresh claim for asylum,” said the campaign group No Borders Wales.
Azerbaijan legalised homosexuality in 2000.
However, the Muslim country is still a very conservative society and homosexuality remains an extremely taboo subject.
The 49 year-old internationally-renowned poet and artist said his work got him into trouble with the law.
He was often critical of the government and members of the regime.
He claims his sexual orientation also caused him both physical and mental grief and he endured years of bullying.
Babi’s family’s denial of his sexual orientation even led to one of his brothers threatening to kill him as he had shamed the family.
After fleeing to the UK, Babi was detained in four different detention centres for thirty-two days before being moved to Cardiff.
He is currently being held at a police station and will likely be moved to a detention centre.
Friend and activist Hywel Bishop, who visited him at the police station, said:
“I’ve never seen anyone so scared. If Babi gets sent home he faces persecution from the state for his radical art, beatings from the local community, as well as the threat of honour killing from his family because
they can’t live with the fact that he’s gay.”