Last edited: November 26, 2004

Gay Algerian Faces Death If Deported Group Says

By Malcolm Thornberry European Bureau Chief, November 25, 2004

London—A gay Algerian refugee at risk of deportation from Britain back to his home country could be murdered by Islamic fundamentalists, he said Thursday.

“I fled Algeria because the Islamists beat me and threatened to kill me,” he said.

“Being deported back to Algeria would be a nightmare. It is a very dangerous place for lesbians and gay men. People like me get killed. I could not cope with always looking over my shoulder, fearful of being murdered because of my sexuality,” he added.

Fearing retribution he has taken the pseudonym Ramzi Isalam.

Gay rights group OutRage is backing Isalam’s claim for refuge in the UK.

Thursday it released a letter sent to Home Secretary, David Blunkett urging that refugee status be granted.

“The Algerian state is notoriously repressive towards its homosexual citizens,” the letter said. “The arrest and torture of gays, by the police and the armed forces, is commonplace. The victims have no legal redress.

“This persecution is compounded by the rise of an armed fundamentalist movement, backed Islamist vigilantes. They pose a particularly grave threat to the security of gay and bisexual Algerians, who are routinely targeted for beatings, torture, disappearances and often extra-judicial execution.

Two of Ramzi Isalam’s gay friends were murdered by the Islamic fundamentalists of the Group Islamique Arme in 1994 and 1996, Outrage said.

He grew up in a district that was a stronghold of the GIA, where gay people live in fear of beatings, torture and murder, and witnessed the stoning of two gay men in the street in 2001.

In 2002, he was found having sex with a man and was reported to the GIA who sent members to his house. Isalam was beaten and threatened with death, Outrage said.

In February 2003 he fled to Britain and claimed asylum. Later that year, his application was refused by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.

He is now making a renewed application for asylum on the grounds that he fears persecution, and possible murder, if he returns to Algeria.

“The armed insurrection and terrorist campaign by Islamic fundamentalists poses an extreme danger to every lesbian and gay Algerian,” said Outrage spokesperson Brett Lock.

“Homosexual prisoners are routinely beaten and raped with impunity, both by other prisoners and by prison guards,” he added.

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