Aderonke Apata deportation case: 'If the Home Office doesn’t believe I’m gay, I’ll send them a video that proves it'

A Nigerian asylum-seeker tells Emily Dugan she is far from alone  in her struggle with the Home Office

Aderonke Apata felt she had tried everything to persuade the Home Office she was gay. She’d sent letters from former girlfriends – both in Britain and Nigeria – and supporting statements from friends.

But once her claim that she could be killed because of her sexuality if sent back to Nigeria was rejected, she felt there was only one way of providing a judge with irrefutable evidence that she was gay: by sending a very personal home video.

On Monday Ms Apata will hand in a petition to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, demanding that the deportation of all LGBT asylum-seekers is halted until a review of their treatment is concluded.

Sitting with her girlfriend, Happiness Agboro, in a bar on Manchester’s Canal Street, Ms Apata, 47, reveals the traumatic ordeal she has experienced: “I was asked to bring my supporting documents for my judicial review for the court to look at. What evidence do we have to compile apart from letters from people? I knew we had a home video of ourselves, so I thought why not just put it in? I cannot afford to go back to my county where I will be tortured, so if I have to prove it with a sexual video, then I have to do it.”

Her experience is echoed by many LGBT asylum-seekers in Britain who are having to go to extreme lengths to persuade sceptical immigration officers of their sexuality. She still feels distraught at having shared such an intimate record of her personal life.

“I feel so bad it’s got to this stage. It’s such a desperate and precarious situation to be in, very dangerous, because anything could happen to those pictures, those videos.”

The Home Secretary ordered a review of how border officials handle gay asylum claims in March after leaked documents revealed that inappropriate interrogation techniques were being used to make people “prove” they were homosexual.

Ms Apata will present her petition at a meeting with the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, attended by asylum-seekers and activists in Manchester.

When she came to Britain from Nigeria in 2004, her asylum claim was on religious grounds. She came from a Christian family, but had married a Muslim man in what she says was a sham arrangement to cover up her long-term relationship with another woman.

According to Ms Apata, her husband’s family turned against her as they suspected she was gay. They took her to a sharia court, where she was sentenced to death for adultery. She says her brother and three-year-old son were killed in related vigilante incidents.

Ms Apata ran away and went into hiding after two appeals for asylum were rejected, living on the streets in Manchester to make sure she would not be deported.

In 2012, after being caught working as a care manager with a false visa, she tried again to apply for asylum – saying she feared returning to Nigeria and being persecuted for her sexuality.

This latest asylum claim was also rejected, despite the fact that Ms Apata gave testimony that her ex-girlfriend in Nigeria was killed in a vigilante attack in 2012 and the country’s law now punishes homosexuality with up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

Ms Apata’s story has rapidly garnered mass support, with one petition demanding Theresa May halt her deportation already attracting more than 230,000 signatures.

A judicial review has now been granted in her case and she is hopeful she will finally have the right to live freely in Britain with her girlfriend.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We do not remove anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality. We provide dedicated guidance and training to those dealing with such asylum claims, and all applications are carefully considered in line with our international obligations.”

For Ms Apata, the threat of deportation has proved too much and she has recently been hospitalised with complex post-traumatic stress disorder. “I want sanctuary,” she says. “I just want to be protected. I want to be who I am.”

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
voicesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Life and Style
tech

Apple has been hit by complaints about the 1.1GB download

Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Life and Style
Alexander McQueen A/W 2014
fashionPolitics aside, tartan is on-trend again this season
Arts and Entertainment
Rapper Jay Z performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2008
musicSinger sued over use of the single-syllable sample in 'Run This Town'
Sport
Joel jumps over the board...and into a giant hole
footballFrom joy to despair in a matter of seconds
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC
tv

Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason

Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me
tv

Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama

Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife
film

Matt Smith is set to join cast of the Jane Austen classic - with a twist

Life and Style
i100

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

NQT Teachers

Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...

MATHS TEACHER, PERMANENT VACANCY, TONBRIDGE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is currently ...

HR Advisor - HR Officer - Employment Law - East London - £25000

£25000 per annum + 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: *** HR Advisor - HR Office...

ENGLISH TEACHER, FULL TIME SUPPLY ROLE, DOVER SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: TEACHER OF ENGLISH NEEDED for lo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week