Current Affairs

Gays have no legal protection from international persecution says tribunal

PinkNews Staff Writer July 6, 2008
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A gay asylum seeker has been told that he should be safe in his homeland of Syria, provided he behaves “discreetly.” A tribunal found that gays have no right of protection from international persecution.

JoJo Jako Jacob, who is 19, claims he will be executed if he is returned to Syria.

He escaped two years ago after suffering severe abuse at the hands of the Syrian police and prison guards when he was arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.

After discovering he was homosexual, he says prison guards beat him so severely that he fell into a coma.

At a recent hearing, British government officials accused him of lying about his sexuality and his treatment by the Syrian police.

The Scotland on Sunday reports that a an immigration appeal tribunal has refused his request in the UK, despite now accepting that he is gay and that his home country represses homosexuality.

The ruling by the Asylum Immigration Tribunal, sitting in Glasgow, states: “Syria criminalises and represses homosexuality. Homosexuals have to modify their behaviour and lifestyle accordingly. We find no evidence that in Syria (Yakob] would conduct himself other than discreetly to avoid repercussions.”

In what could be a precedent making decision, the tribunal claims that case law does not allow gay people to seek legal protection in the UK from repressive regimes.

Yakob arrived in London in 2006 and given extended leave by the Home Office but was arrested at Aberdeen airport in April of last year after attempting to travel with a falsified Belgian passport.

After a 12-month sentence served at Polmont Young Offenders Unit, near Falkirk, he was released onj bail this month.

He told the newspaper: “I am very afraid of being sent home. I am afraid for my life. But I will do my best to win my case and stay in Scotland. I want to stay here, but I can’t do anything until I am allowed to stay. I can’t get a job, I can’t do my computer training – my life is on hold.

“I just want to be happy and live my life.

“They believed that I was gay but they said it was not a problem to be gay in Syria if you keep your mouth shut.

“But how do you live? That is no way to live. I want to live my life and be free, and I could not do that in Syria.”

Campaigners have highlighted the behaviour of the Home Office, which is reported to have offered Jojo £46 to go back to Syria and sent him a letter every week asking his permission to be repatriated.

Peter Tatchell, who highlighted cases like Yakob’s case at London’s gay pride rally yesterday said: “This young man’s life will be in danger if he is deported. It’s outrageous that our Government is showing such a callous disregard for human rights.

“The Government is fast losing its gay-friendly credentials by its heartless, cruel and vindictive mistreatment of gay asylum seekers.”

He urged the audience in Trafalgar Square to boo at Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Equalities Secretary when she addressed the rally.

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