Nigerian gay rights campaigner freed from asylum detention centre

Tony Grew July 4, 2008
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Davis Mac-Iyalla, a leader of the gay Christian and gay rights movement in Nigeria, was arrested and incarcerated in Oakington asylum detention centre in Cambridgeshire earlier this week.

He has now been released and will be able to speak at Pride London tomorrow about the situation in Nigeria.

“After an intensive lobbying campaign for his release over the last two days, the Home Office has relented and set free Mr Mac-Iyalla,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

“I am delighted that the Home Office has finally seen sense and released him.

“But he was only freed because he has lots of supporters and a first-class solicitor, Abigale Evans of Wilson and Co. Many gay asylum seekers are not so lucky. They end up in detention for months.

“Davis should never have been detained in the first place. Treating a victim of homophobic persecution like a common criminal is outrageous.”

Mr Mac-Iyalla is claiming ayslum in the UK.

“I believe it is too dangerous for him to go back to Nigeria – or to the neighbouring countries,” said Mr Tatchell.

“Long before he considered the option of asylum, I was aware of the
abuses and threats that Mr Mac-Iyalla has experienced: his arrest,
imprisonment and torture by the police in Abuja in 2005; his inability
to attend his sister’s funeral in March this year due to fear of
assassination; the threats to kill him made by assailants who attacked
his CAN colleague in Port Harcourt in the same month; and the violent
assault on him in Lome, Togo, also in March.

Since March 2008, Mr Mac-Iyalla has received email and text messages
threatening to kill him. They originate from Nigeria.

This pattern of escalating threats and attacks make it unsafe for Mr
Mac-Iyalla to return to Nigeria.

Mr Mac-Iyalla, 36, is the leader of Changing Attitude Nigera, a group that works for equality for
lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the Anglican

CAN also promotes a wider LGBT human rights agenda in Nigeria,
campaigning, for instance, against the Nigerian government’s bid in
2006 to outlaw same-sex marriage and ban gay organisations, churches,
helplines, counselling groups, meetings and newspapers.

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