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Wednesday 17 September 2008

My letter to Jacqui Smith

Dear Ms Smith

I have voted Labour all my life and worked for many years for the party. It is because of the work of people like me that Labour has gay rights policies.

But your treatment of gay asylum seekers has driven me to vow to never put an X next to any Labour candidate ever again.

Babi Badalov is just the latest under threat of death by 'honour killing' (this is the threat he faces) or similar if returned but you believe he can be 'discreet'.

I learn tonight that your thugs will be deporting him.

There is a word for this Ms. Smith, hypocrisy. You would not dare use language like 'discreet' to British gay people.

This is not 'civilised', this is not honorable and it is not fair.

You have forever lost my vote and support for Labour until and unless the party changes its shameful attitudes to these most vulnerable people.


Paul Canning

'You make us sick, you're going back where you belong'

The Azerbaijani artist and gay asylum seeker Babi Badalov, who I wrote about recently (Insight: the hell of the asylum seeker), has been detained and has been given deportation directions for this coming Saturday.

Campaigners are urgently seeking the intervention of his local MP, which they believe will stop the deportation.

Babi's campaign has already gained the support of writer and playwright Patrick Jones, Leane Wood AM, Bethan Jenkins AM, Chris Bryant MP, Cardiff Council Leader Rodney Berman and Deputy Leader Neil McEvoy.

A demonstration is also being urgently organised. A campaign organiser wrote to me that, "I've never seen him, or anyone for that matter, looking so scared".

When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported Babi responded by saying “I feel sick”

To which the UK Border agent told him “well you make us sick, you're going back where you belong.”

As a result of beatings and bullying over the years Babi has only eight teeth remaining and suffers from a number of mental health problems.

Since arriving in Cardiff in December 2006, Babi has engaged fully with various parts of the local community and has made many friends in his new home. He is still producing poetry, is writing a book about his art/gay life experiences and is also working on a film addressing the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. This latter work, as well as many other aspects of his art, would of course be impossible in Azerbaijan.

For the first time in his life, Babi felt happy and safe in Cardiff. He felt able to openly express himself artistically, politically and with regard to his sexuality, without associated feelings of fear, shame and imminent repression.

Babi is under open threat of death by 'honour killing' but Jacqui Smith believes he can be 'discreet'.

What you can do to help Babi stay

Use this model campaign letter to copy/amend or write your own letter to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, asking her to allow Babi to stay safe in Cardiff.

Hand-written letters can be more effective, if you have the time. Remember to quote the Home Office ref. number: B1234623

Send to:

Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
3rd Floor Peel Buildings
2 Marsham Street

Please send any copies of letters/faxes to

More about Babi.

Update: Cardiff picket for Babi

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