This is the world we live in
In order to gain even a slight understanding of the struggle that LGBT asylum seekers go through before they reach the UK, here is a sample of the backgrounds of a few of those who have come to UKLGIG for help – it does not make for easy reading!
Videos from the BBC:
‘I fled Syria when my father found out I was gay’ [March 2017]
Syria crisis: What is it like to be a gay refugee ? [October 2014]
Faiza is a Muslim lesbian from Pakistan.
When she was young, Faiza married a Christian man without her family’s consent. After the wedding, she discovered that her husband was unemployed, alcoholic and a drug user. He severely abused her, beating and raping her. With the collusion of his mother, Faiza’s husband started to sell her to other men. Faiza tells how three or four men would rape her in a day, in her room, while her husband and his mother waited outside. Faiza got pregnant several times and has three children. Her husband beat her more after she had the children because he said they were not his. Two days after the birth of her second daughter, Faiza’s husband brought home three men who all raped her. She haemorrhaged and was taken to hospital.
When Faiza’s parents died and left her an inheritance, she refused to hand it over to her husband. When Faiza discovered that her husband and mother‑in‑law were planning to lock her in the kitchen and set her on fire, she dispersed her children amongst friends and ran away, using her money to buy her way to the UK.
Faiza is now in a lesbian relationship in this country. She has been refused asylum in the UK.
Agnes is a 25‑year‑old lesbian from Sierra Leone.
Agnes’s father died when she was twelve and she lived happily with her mother and brothers and sisters. After secondary school Agnes attended a computing institute for three years and had a good job. In September 2002, Agnes met an American woman on holiday in Sierra Leone and had a two‑month relationship with her. When this woman left, Agnes looked for other lesbians but her approaches to other women led to abuse.
In November, one month after her American girlfriend left, Agnes’s family asked her to marry a cousin. She told them she couldn’t because she is a lesbian. Agnes believes that they had already heard this and that is why they wanted her to marry. Agnes’s family beat her and forced her into the marriage where she was repeatedly raped. Agnes went to the police and explained her situation but was told it is a family matter and she had created the situation herself. The police forced her out of the police station. Agnes’s family told all her relatives and the community that she was a lesbian. This led to constant abuse from the community – being spat at, called names and having dirt thrown at her. Agnes went to a different police station but was told again that they would not help her. The abuse from family and community became so bad that Agnes could not go anywhere without being attacked.
Agnes left Freetown and went to an uncle in Makeni. He told her she could not come into his home as it would offend the family. Having nowhere else to go, Agnes returned to her family in Freetown to discover that they were planning to have her circumcised as they had been advised this would remedy her sexual orientation problem. Agnes strongly objected and was again beaten. Her family told her employer that she was lesbian and she was dismissed. They then began to starve her and told her she was going to be forcibly circumcised. Again, Agnes went to the police and yet again was told they would not help.
In desperation and fear for her life, Agnes contacted her American girlfriend who arranged for an agent to help her to leave the country. Agnes arrived in the UK in January 2003 thinking she was going to the United States. When she reached immigration control, the agent accompanying her had disappeared so Agnes told the immigration officer what had happened to her and claimed asylum. At this time, Agnes was unaware that she was pregnant.
Agnes has been refused asylum in the UK.
Hamid is a 30‑year‑old gay man from Algeria
who was forced to flee following a series of attacks on him. Hamid knew he was gay whilst he was still in primary school but he did not want to get into trouble or be ostracised by his family. Hamid’s sexuality is illegal and a taboo subject in Algeria.
The fact that Hamid looks effeminate means he is perceived as gay and he has, therefore, suffered verbal and physical abuse since his early teens. He was beaten when he was thirteen. Hamid was subjected to continual verbal abuse and was spat at in the streets. He was severely beaten by seven men when he was eighteen. After finishing university Hamid came to the UK on a tourist visa and claimed asylum.
Hamid was refused asylum in the UK and has been deported to Algeria. With the support of UKLGIG, Hamid is making a claim to the European Commission of Human Rights. Unfortunately, this could take two years and in the meantime Hamid will have to hide and make sure that neither his family nor the Algerian authorities find him.
Lucille is a lesbian from Cameroon
Lucille founded an underground women’s support organisation in Cameroon that developed into a lesbian group. The group met once a month. At the end of November 2006, three days before the group was due to meet, Lucille was summoned by the police and warned that they were aware of the group. She was told that the group and the meetings were illegal and the scheduled meeting must not take place. Lucille changed the place and time of the meeting and it went ahead. Four days later she was arrested at her workplace, held for fifteen days without charge, raped, tortured and then released.
After her release Lucille continued to organise meetings for the group, which consisted of around forty women. Lucille was careful, changing the venue and time of the meetings to avoid detection.
When one of the members of the group was found dead in a car near the airport and her lesbian partner was accused of her murder, Lucille, as founder of the group, was questioned by police. This led to the discovery of her sexuality by her family.
On May Day 2007, Lucille distributed leaflets about the group and the next day she was again arrested. Once again she was beaten and raped. Lucille escaped with the help of a lesbian guard and entered the UK illegally on 29th May.
At the end of August Lucille gave birth to the baby conceived during her ordeal of repeated rape and torture last November. Lucille is awaiting the result of her asylum claim.
Joseph is a 17‑year‑old gay young man from Uganda.
Joseph’s mother died when he was six years old. His father was abducted by Kony rebels shortly afterwards. Although a neighbour looked after him initially, they could not afford to keep him for any length of time and he was left on the streets of Kampala to fend for himself. Joseph’s body is covered in the scars he carries from the numerous times he was caught in a police round up of street children who were taken to the police station and mercilessly beaten. Eventually a kind and generous man took Joseph into his home and helped him to leave the country. Because Joseph looks older than he is, the false passport he used when he entered the UK at fourteen, said that he was eighteen.
When he was fifteen Joseph claimed asylum and was held in a detention centre for over a year while his solicitor tried to prove his age.
Joseph is a brave and resilient young man. Whilst in detention he assisted several other detainees to contact Medical Justice and UKLGIG. Joseph resisted several attempts at deportation by refusing to leave the escort van, refusing to leave the detention centre, climbing onto the roof of the detention centre, being disruptive and having the Captain refuse to take him on a flight.
On 1st August 2007, almost three years after he arrived in the UK, Joseph was deported to Uganda – having been injected in the neck with a strong sedative and being handcuffed for the entire flight.
The vast majority of us live in a place of safety. If you are one of the 15,000 people who are visiting this website or the forum each month to find out how you can live together with your partner in the UK, under laws which were passed following 12 years of patient work by UKLGIG, we need you to understand that now we urgently need your help.
More and more people are contacting us from immigration detention centres. They have claimed asylum because they fear to return to their home countries to certain abuse and worse, merely for being a lesbian or a gay man. Shockingly, some of those in detention, possibly just down the road from where you live, are suffering beatings and other abuse within the detention centres themselves.
The fast-track asylum system means that very few of these people have access to adequate legal advice. With our limited and stretched resources, we cannot currently reach them all.
With your help we can change this. Please consider a donation via the button BELOW LEFT