Gay Algerian Faces Deportation After 10 Years in UK
Lover pleads for partner to be allowed to stay
Gay News, February 21, 2005
living a happy, secure life in Britain since he was 15, a 25-year old gay
Algerian, Saad B, now faces being torn apart from his lover and deported to
his violently homophobic homeland of Algeria.
And Saad B’s partner of four years, Matthew Skelly, is
pleading for him to be allowed to stay in the UK.
“I am left cold inside at the thought I could lose my
boyfriend. I try to block things out and get on with life as normal, but the
constant worry and sleepless nights serve as a reminder that two lives can be
so arbitrarily ruined. I pray every night that sense and compassion will
prevail; that Saad will be allowed to stay with me in the UK”, he said.
The irony of the current situation is that the UK is only
months away from the “enactment” of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 which
the Government insists is same-sex marriage in all but name. If the couple
were registered under the Civil Partnership Act, there would be no question of
Saad’s asylum application has been rejected. All his
appeals have been turned down—despite the fact that he has lived his
entire adult life in the UK.
Last week the courts turned down his request for a
Judicial Review into the way his asylum application has been handled by the
Saad B is panic-stricken: “I fear for my safety and
mental well-being if I am sent back to Algeria,” he said.
Gay rights group OutRage! is backing Saad’s asylum bid.
“The way Saad is being treated is typical of the inhumanity of the asylum
system,” Outrage! spokesperson Brett Lock said. “It is appalling the
government wants to deport him to a country he barely knows, where his family
have disowned him, and where he has no friends.
“If he is forcibly returned, Saad will be at risk of
imprisonment by the Algerian authorities and could be murdered by the
country’s violently anti-gay Islamic fundamentalists,” he pointed out.
Peter Tatchell said that sending Saad back to Algeria
would tear his life apart.
“He has established a happy, fulfilling gay life in
Britain. It is unbelievably cruel for the Home Office to expect him to return
to Algeria, hide his sexuality, and live in constant fear of arrest and
murder”, said Mr Tatchell.
Saad B, whose name is not being revealed as he could well
be targeted in Algeria if he is forcible returned, could face up to three
years in jail if he is deported to the country where homosexuality is illegal.
And gay prisoners face beating and rape, Outrage! said.
In Algeria the police and army harass and brutalise gay
people with impunity and Islamic fundamentalists target queers for
assassination. Public attitudes are violently homophobic. Honour killings by
family members and neighbours are not uncommon.
Saad B has been rejected by his family. He has no friends
in Algeria. It would be like being exiled to a foreign land.
“I grew up in the UK,” Saad B explained. “I belong
here. I have no other home to go to and I don’t want to live anywhere else.
The UK is the only place I know. I haven’t lived anywhere else since my
childhood. Here I felt I was free, alive and safe. I grew up fast and worked
hard to build my life here. I can’t imagine hiding in Algeria and leading a
‘discreet’ life, like the Home Office suggests.
“I’d rather die,” he said emotionally.
“I have been in this country for ten years, during
which time I have enjoyed the freedom of living my sexual identity openly,
without the fear of being found out,” he continued. “Back in Algeria, it
would be impossible and extremely dangerous to lead an openly gay lifestyle.
Homosexuals in Algeria suffer all types of persecution and inhuman treatments.
“Going back to Algeria will expose me to great danger,
and reignite the hostility and hatred my family feel towards me. I cannot live
discreetly, because I cannot pretend to be someone other than my true myself.
“No matter where I went, I would be always vulnerable
to blackmail, bullying, harassment, violence, rape and torture from the
police, army, fundamentalists, vigilantes and my own family”, said Saad B.
The irony of the current situation is that the UK is only
months away from the “enactment” of the Civil Partnership Act 2004—and Saad has been in a relationship for
almost four years.
“I first met Saad in April 2001 and after a couple of
dates I knew I was in love for the first time in my life,” said Matthew
Skelly. “Without hesitation, I moved to Woolwich to be with him. The past
four years have been the greatest of my life.
Saad B is asking reader’s to send messages of support
to his solicitor: Mr H Samra, Sheikh and Co Solicitors, 208 Seven Sisters
Road, London N4 3NX. These letters will then be presented to the Home
Secretary in support of his request to remain in the UK.
Compiled by Outrage!
Saad B. vs The Home Secretary
Saad B was born in 1979 in north-east Algeria. In 1992,
at the height of the Algerian civil war, the area became a stronghold of the
Islamic fundamentalist insurgents of the Groupe Islamique Armée (GIA).
In 1994, when SB was 14, the local GIA threatened his
parents with ‘repercussions’ unless SB joined their forces. The forced
recruitment of young people into the terrorist army was then very common, with
child draftees being used to assist with bombings and assassinations.
At his parent’s request, SB fled the country. After a
period in Spain, and then France (where his eldest sister lives), he was
eventually brought into Britain by a family friend, a few days after his 15th
birthday. He relied on his family friend to make an application for asylum on
his behalf, but this person failed to do so.
SB’s guardian subsequently disappeared and he was left
alone. After six months, the isolation became overpowering. In 1996, SB fled
to Belgium (where his eldest brother lives). But he was returned from Brussels
the same day, due to his lack of authorised travel documents.
On his return, SB applied for asylum. At this point, UK
immigration officials incorrectly assessed him as an adult and he was interned
in an adult prison (HMP Rochester) for nearly one year, until social services
recognised the mistake and secured his release.
This error by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate
(IND) apparently extinguished consideration of his asylum application and his
long-standing presence in Britain.
SB was provided with housing and support in Worthing.
However, on receiving a letter from the IND requesting an interview, SB
panicked. Fearing this meant he would again be detained in HMP Rochester, he
fled to his brother in Belgium. On this occasion he stayed there approximately
His brother advised him to return to Britain and resume
his asylum application. On being interviewed by immigration officials on his
return, SB reiterated his claim for asylum. His current claim therefore dates
from January 1998 (because his previous claim was incorrectly discounted).
The original reasons for SB leaving Algeria and coming to
Britain stemmed from a genuine fear of forced conscription into the GIA
The entire last ten years of SB’s life, between the
ages of 15 to 25, have been spent in the UK (apart from an absence of 6
All his friends are here. All his work experience is
here. Britain is his home.
Since coming to the UK, SB has realised he is gay—and has begun to accept his
sexuality—something he would probably have never been able to do if he had
remained in the repressive, threatening, violent and homophobic atmosphere of
One result of him being gay is that his entire family, on
whom he relied so heavily, have ceased contact with him.
If he was deported back to Algeria, he would be returning
to a country he barely remembers, with no family support or protection.
SB’s 1998 application for asylum was eventually
considered in July 2003. It was only at that moment he told the IND he was
gay. This was unsurprising since SB has found it incredibly difficult to
reconcile his sexuality with his Muslim faith—let alone being open about it to other
people—especially government officials.
It is acknowledged by the IND that SB is homosexual and
homosexuality in Algeria is punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment.
Nevertheless, his application was refused by the Home Office.
SB appealed this decision in October 2003 and was refused
again. It was suggested by the asylum adjudicator that he would be in no
danger of persecution in Algeria if he was ‘discreet’ ie. kept his
sexuality secret. Having been increasingly open and well-adjusted about his
homosexuality, SB would find it an incredible strain to go back into the
closet and always being looking over his shoulder in case he was discovered
and arrested or murdered.
It was also suggested by the adjudicator that the close
friendships, and a long-term gay relationship he had formed with Matthew
Skelly, did not warrant consideration. This ruling does not accord to the
rights enshrined in Articles 3 & 8 respectively of the Human Rights Act
SB subsequently appealed once more against the
adjudicator’s decision in October 2004. His appeal was dismissed.
Application for a Judicial Review of the case has been
lodged, and SB awaits a decision in the coming weeks or months.
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