A GAY asylum seeker has been refused permission to stay in Scotland and told he is likely to be safe in his homophobic homeland provided he behaves "discreetly".
Scotland on Sunday revealed earlier this year that Syrian Jojo Jako Yakob was battling to stay here after suffering horrific abuse because of his sexuality and political activities.
It has now emerged that an immigration tribunal has turned down his request to stay in the UK, despite accepting that Yakob is gay and that Syria criminalises and represses homo– sexuality.
In a judgment that has appalled gay rights campaigners, the tribunal suggests Yakob is unlikely to come to any harm so long as he keeps his sexuality under wraps.
Lawyers for the 20-year-old are planning a last-ditch court bid to stop him being deported. Campaigners said they were in no doubt Yakob's life would once again be placed in serious danger.
Yakob, a Christian member of the repressed Kurdish minority in the Arab state, fled to the UK two years ago after being arrested, shot and beaten. He left his home country after surviving a harrowing ordeal at the hands of Syrian police and prison guards. He had been arrested for distributing anti-government leaflets.
When prison guards discovered he was homosexual he suffered horrific beatings and was assaulted so badly that he fell into a coma.
Despite his attempts to start a new life in Scotland, the Home Office ordered his deportation in March and, last week, his appeal against the decision was denied.
The ruling by the Asylum Immigration Tribunal, sitting in Glasgow, states: "Syria criminalises and represses homosexuality. Homosexuals have to modify their behaviour and lifestyle accordingly. We find no evidence that in Syria (Yakob] would conduct himself other than discreetly to avoid repercussions."
The tribunal concluded that case law does not allow homosexuals from repressive countries to international legal protection.
Yakob fled Syria for London in 2006 inside a lorry. He applied for asylum and was granted extended leave by the Home Office, but was arrested in Aberdeen last April after being found in possession of a fake Belgian passport. He was handed a 12-month sentence and sent to Polmont Young Offenders Unit, near Falkirk, until his release on bail this month. His case was first highlighted by Scotland on Sunday in March, when he was served with a deportation order by the Home Office despite the fact that homosexuality is illegal in his home country.
Yakob says he now fears for his life following the tribunal's decision.
"I am very afraid of being sent home," he said. "I am afraid for my life. But I will do my best to win my case and stay in Scotland. I want to stay here, but I can't do anything until I am allowed to stay. I can't get a job, I can't do my computer training – my life is on hold.
"I just want to be happy and live my life.
"They believed that I was gay but they said it was not a problem to be gay in Syria if you keep your mouth shut.
"But how do you live? That is no way to live. I want to live my life and be free, and I could not do that in Syria."
The tribunal determination questioned whether Yakob wanted to stay in the UK to avoid compulsory military service. It also found it "difficult to see" his affiliations to a Kurdish political party, since he was only half Kurdish.
It found Yakob's evidence to have been "self-contradictory and unreliable" and questioned the truth over his Kurdish ethnic origins, his family circumstances, his account of being detained in a Syrian prison and his reasons for coming to the UK.
But gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said the refusal was "irrational, ill-informed and insensitive".
He added: "This young man's life will be in danger if he is deported. It's outrageous that our Government is showing such a callous disregard for human rights.
"The Government is fast losing its gay-friendly credentials by its heartless, cruel and vindictive mistreatment of gay asylum seekers."