Nigerian gays right activist Aderonke Apata

Nigerian gays right activist Apata refused asylum for pretending to be lesbian

Nigerian gays right activist Aderonke Apata

Nigerian gays right activist Aderonke Apata

A Nigerian gays right activist Aderonke Apata, 47, has been refused asylum by the High Court in the UK after judge John Bowers QC ruled that she was pretending to be lesbian.

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According to The Independent, in her desperation to convince the Government she was gay, Apata had tendered a private DVD and photographs of her sex life as evidence. Still the High Court judge ruled that her engagement in same sex relationships is a conscious ploy to “fabricate” an asylum claim.

Bowers said: “I find it difficult to disagree with the conclusions of the First Tier Tribunal that ‘she has engaged in same-sex relationships in detention in order to fabricate an asylum claim based on claimed lesbian sexuality’. I also accept the associated submission made by [the Home Office] that she has in effect adjusted her conduct so as to adopt other customs, dress and mores of a particular social group purely as a way of gaining refugee status.”

The judge also insists that even though petitions signed by several hundred thousand people supporting her case – and her considerable support from LGBT activists in court – are very impressive, “I do not think that can amount to evidence as opposed to opinion and support.”

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was in court to support Ms Apata, said of the ruling: “It’s bizarre that the judge does not accept that Aderonke is a member of a particular social group, namely lesbian women. I find it offensive to suggest that she’s adopted the ‘customs, dress and mores’ of lesbian women purely in order to gain refugee status, given the evidence that she’s presented in her claim.

“The worst aspect of the ruling is the judge doesn’t accept that she has a well-founded fear of persecution if she returns to Nigeria. It’s clear that she’s been publicly identified in the UK and in Nigeria as a lesbian or bisexual woman. Such women face the twin threats of legal persecution and mob violence in Nigeria.”

Ms Apata, who has won awards for her gay-rights campaigning since she came to Britain in 2004, is engaged to her long-term partner Happiness Agboro, also from Nigeria. Happiness has already been granted asylum in the UK based on her sexuality.

On Monday, 13 January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill that criminalises same-sex relationships. The bill contains penalties of up to 14 years in prison and bans gay marriage, same-sex “amorous relationships” and membership of gay rights groups.

“Persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” the bill says.

“Any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison.”