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California | LGBTI / Queer

Gay Refugees in the U.S.: Becley Aigbuza risk deportation
by Everyone Group
Saturday Jan 28th, 2012 5:34 AM
Becley Aigbuza, a young Nigerian homosexual who lives in San Diego, risks being deported back to his homeland where he was raped and tortured. EveryOne Group is appealing to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Governor of California, Edmund Brown Jr.

Rome / San Diego, January 28, 2012. LGBT refugees in the U.S.: Becley Aigbuza, a young Nigerian homosexual who lives in San Diego, risks being deported back to his homeland where he was raped and tortured. EveryOne Group is appealing to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and the Governor of California, Edmund Brown Jr.

Becley Aigbuza (in the photo), a 28-year-old homosexual man from Benin (Nigeria), moved to America in 1994, when he was eleven years old. He now risks deportation from San Diego (California) back to Nigeria.

Torture and rape suffered in Nigeria. After suffering torture and rape in Nigeria, Becley expects the same treatment if he is sent back there. In 2008, on a visit to his aunt on his father’s side (with whom he had spent his early childhood) he was arrested by the Nigerian police after the woman discovered his relationship with a local boy and reported him to the authorities. Becley was forcibly removed from his aunt's house, taken to a barracks, locked in a cell for hours and beaten up by other detainees after the police informed them of his homosexuality. Subsequently, he was taken out by three police officers, brutally beaten again and tortured. “After being forced to admit to them that I was gay, the police tied me up, burned my forehead with cotton wool soaked in acid and took turns sodomizing me with a beer bottle for hours” Becley told the human rights defenders from EveryOne Group, the international human rights organization representing him. “I woke up in hospital in Benin City with a dislocated shoulder, a broken hand, bruises and wounds all over my body and a mutilated testicle. I had been betrayed by my own family and cruelly punished just for loving a person of the same sex”.

The desperate return to the U.S. Becley made a desperate return to the U.S. with the help of a nurse, who he promised to refund once he was back in the U.S. He managed to escape from the hospital and the control of the Nigerian authorities and to embark a few weeks later (thanks to the support of a priest who found him a new passport) on a flight to San Diego.
Becley lived in San Diego with his father until 2008, after a childhood of physical and verbal abuse for not being like other children. When he confessed his homosexuality in 2005, at the age of 22 (and already at college), he was beaten and disowned by his father, and forced to find a new home.

The Nigerian embassy: “being gay, you deserved that treatment”.
“Back in the U.S., I contacted the Nigerian Embassy in Washington and reported the abuse I had been subjected to by the police authorities because of my sexual orientation” said Becley. “I still remember the words of the Embassy official: he said I had deserved the treatment seeing I was gay, and that things would get much worse for me if I returned to Nigeria. I then wrote a letter of complaint to the Embassy, telling them my story and expressing my anger over their behaviour. I informed them of my intention of giving up my Nigerian citizenship in protest”.

The risk of imminent deportation to Nigeria and the death threats from his family. “One day I made the biggest mistake of my life: scared, dejected, depressed and without any support whatsoever, I applied for a credit card using a false name”. In 2011, when Becley forwarded to the U.S. Government a request for American citizenship, the U.S. immigration authorities discovered his crime, turned down the young man’s application, and began the procedure to send him back to Nigeria. Becley was detained for several months in an immigration centre, and then released for health reasons, a direct result of the torture he had been subjected to in Nigeria. The next hearing in court, where they will discuss his case and decide on his deportation, is scheduled for February 28th, 2012. “When I think that I am in danger of being sent back to Nigeria, and that the Nigerian Embassy is aware of my homosexuality and of the complaint I made against them - for which I risk serious reprisals - I can only fear the worst. I’d rather die than face deportation. What is more, my father and my relatives back in Nigeria have vowed to kill me, to cleanse 'the abomination and shame I have brought upon my family by being gay'.”

The appeal to the U.S. by the humanitarian organization EveryOne.
EveryOne Group, which is in direct contact with Becley in the United States, is appealing to President Barack Obama, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Governor of California, Edmund G. Brown Jr.: “We are asking that Becley Aigbuza be granted immediate humanitarian protection according to the Geneva Convention and the Convention against Torture” say the co-presidents of EveryOne Group, Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau. “Nigerian law foresees imprisonment of up to fourteen years for homosexuality, as punishment for offending public morality. In the north of the country, where Islamic Sharia law is in force, gay people are even sentenced to death. We are asking the Obama administration (which has shown its solidarity for the civil struggles and achievements of LGBT people on several occasions) to take Becley’s case to heart, annul his deportation and grant him refugee status in the United States”.

The appeal for help to the United Nations and the U.S. Ambassador in Italy, Mr. David Thorne.
EveryOne Group’s appeal is also addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. Antonio Guterres, and to Mr. David Thorne, the U.S. ambassador in Italy, where the NGO is based. “The fundamental rights of Becley to life, liberty and dignity must be protected. The young man has already suffered indelible physical and psychological abuse, and he must not be subjected to further violence because of indifference from the institutions - especially in a moment of extreme mental and physical insecurity, which is putting his life at serious risk”.

Act now!
EveryOne Group invites civil society to take urgent action and submit this appeal to the U.S. State Department, the White House and the United Nations, using the e-mail addresses below (in copy to info [at] everyonegroup.com):

president [at] whitehouse.gov
civil.liberties [at] dhs.gov
socr_direct [at] state.gov
askdoj [at] usdoj.gov
guterres [at] unhcr.org
Urgent-action [at] ohchr.org

Picture: Becley Aigbuza

For further information:
EveryOne Group
+39 393 4010237:: +39 331 3585406:: +39 334 3449180
http://www.everyonegroup.com: info [at] everyonegroup.com