17 July 2023
A gay man faces deportation to Cameroon , where he is threatened with imprisonment and death
Several years ago, Richard left Cameroon to escape violence because of his homosexuality. He has been denied international protection in Belgium, despite ample evidence of a serious risk of being forcibly deported to his country of origin. He is currently being held in the 127 bis detention centre. The threat of imminent deportation is a worrying illustration of the difficulties faced by gay people seeking asylum, as well as a stiking example of the institutional violence which is perpetrated by the Belgian state.
In 2015, Richard Ngaballa was forced to flee Cameroon following an extremely violent homophobic attack carried out by his family. At the time, Richard was in a hidden relationship with a man. One morning, on his way home with his partner, he realised that he had been ambushed: members of his family were present and confronted him about his homosexuality, which they had just discovered following rumours in the neighbourhood. During the attack, Richard and his partner were both tortured, before managing to flee to a hospital in Yaoundé. They then decided to leave Cameroon, despite both being in critial condition. Along the way, Richard’s partner’s health deteriorated. In Morocco, just as the two men were hoping to access free healthcare in Spain, Richard’s partner died of an infection resulting from the torture they had endured.
Forced to prove his homosexuality by every means possible, but without success
Richard arrived in Belgium in 2016 to join his aunt who lives there. He made an initial application for international protection (AIP) on the basis of persecution in Cameroon linked to his sexual orientation. Unfortunately, his application was rejected, as the CGRA (Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons) considered that there was insufficient evidence to prove Richard’s homosexuality. In total, Richard made 4 applications for international protection in Belgium, all of which were rejected or declared inadmissible on the grounds of lack of new evidence.
The fourth and final AIP was in 2022. Richard then had a new partner, with whom he lived and with whom he had started legal cohabitation proceedings. Unfortunately, it was impossible for Richard to gather all the required documents, such as a certificate of celibacy from Cameroon. Richard compiled all possible documents and also sent intimate videos of a sexual nature, not knowing what to provide as proof after so many years and so many procedures. All responses were negative. The CGRA even told him that “it is forbidden to send pornographic images”.
Testifying as a last resort against imminent deportation
Given the unquestionable danger he faces, Richard wants to talk to journalists and publicise his story. In Belgium, the authorities claim to respect and protect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people: what Richard has been experiencing for several years undeniably proves the opposite.