A gay man is facing deportation from the UK to Morocco – where homosexuality is punishable with up to three years in jail – after his bid for asylum was rejected.
25-year-old Abderrahim sought asylum earlier this year after being subjected to verbal abuse and death threats because of his sexual orientation. He and several other members of a fledgling LGBT group called Akaliyat (“Minorities”) fled the country after it received national media coverage.
However, the Home Office rejected Abderrahim’s application because “his claimed treatment does not amount to persecution.” An appeal was dismissed by a first-tier tribunal judge earlier this month.
The asylum rejection comes just weeks after the Moroccan minister of state for human rights, Mustapha Ramid, called gay people awsakh, an Arabic word for “scum” or “dirt”.
According to The Guardian, Abderrahim said deporting him was like sending him back to darkness.
“Being gay in Morocco is hard, you can face persecution and be put in prison.
“I know who I am now, I understand what’s the meaning of freedom, I can walk in the street and not look behind my back. For me to go back to Morocco is to go back to darkness – homophobia in Morocco is rising.”
Jamal Malek, a Moroccan LGBT activist, said:
“People in Morocco still think an HIV-positive person is someone we should throw away, abandon and eliminate from our everyday life.
“Abderrahim is not only an HIV-positive person, but also publicly and openly gay, and that’s just enough for us to see how it’s going to be so difficult for him to come back to Morocco.”
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell added:
“Gay Moroccans are at risk of arrest, imprisonment, homophobic violence and so-called honour killing. Many people with HIV in Morocco do not have access to life-saving treatments, so his deportation could be a death sentence.”
Abderrahim’s lawyers have submitted an application for permission to appeal. A Home Office spokesperson said his claim “was carefully considered on its individual merits against background country information and was refused in August 2017”.