Don’t deport

London again: a protest calling for an end to deportations to Uganda of known lesbians who face death if returned there.

Around 20 protesters from Queer Strike (part of the Global Women’s Strike movement) and the Movement for Justice protested this afternoon against the deportations of gay asylum seekers to countries such as Uganda, where gays are persecuted and even killed.

The protest came months after lesbian Jackie Nanyonjo died following injuries inflicted on her during her forced deportation by thugs contracted to the UKBA in March, and a single day before flights are due to return Linda N on Qatar Airways and Josephine by Royal Air Maroc.



  1. left0ver1under says

    People’s ability to obtain refugee status rarely depends on need and more about relations between the two countries.

    In the 1980s and 1990s, the US did what China does to North Koreans today. It captured refugees and knowingly sent them back to their deaths in oppressive pro-US regimes like El Salvador, Haiti and Guatemala.

    Governments are still actively trying to deny refugee status to women who want to avoid Female Genital Mutilation, arguing it will “open the floodgates for refugees” or “it’s not a life or death issue”.

    Wealth often has a lot to do with who gets to stay, not life or death (re: Rupert Murdoch buying his way to the front of the immigration line in the US). Countries rejected people who tried to escape Hong Kong in 1997 except for the wealthy. Governments actively tried to prevent middle class people from having “anchor babies” and citizenship gained through them.

  2. says

    Thank you for writing about this, Ophelia. The immigration enforcement system is horrifying. People who come here to seek asylum are often held in hellholes like the infamous Yarl’s Wood detention centre: some are held on the “Detained Fast Track” while their claims are processed, with barely any opportunity to gather evidence and make their cases. There is a culture of disbelieving asylum-seekers and denying them dignity.

    Kim-Ly – no real names are used in this article – was trafficked into the UK from Vietnam, and forced to work as a prostitute. Terrified about her fate at the hands of her traffickers if forced back to Vietnam, she claimed asylum. She found a system that was in turns confusing and intimidating.

    When she attended the Asylum Screening Unit (ASU) in Croydon to make her claim, she was required to disclose information about sex work in the earshot of queuing strangers, and was particularly unsettled by the presence of other Vietnamese asylum seekers. Understandably uncomfortable, Kim-Ly was hesitant in her answers; when her interpreter shouted at her to speak more loudly, she burst into tears. Her children were with her throughout, as there are no childcare facilities at ASU to protect them from hearing traumatic details about abuse and persecution. Later, at her substantive asylum interview, her interpreter was a man, despite her express request for a woman. Kim-Ly agreed to proceed with the interview, not least because, after her experience at ASU, she had arranged for her children to be looked after elsewhere. In common with the overwhelming majority of asylum claims, her application was refused.

    There was evidence in the research, too, of deeply inappropriate questioning at interview. Emiola, having claimed asylum after bring trafficked from Nigeria to work in the sex trade, was asked whether she enjoyed being a prostitute, and how many men she had slept with.

  3. says

    And these are the people making decisions about asylum cases:

    Louise Perrett, who worked as a case owner at the Border Agency office in Cardiff for three and a half months last summer, claims staff kept a stuffed gorilla, a “grant monkey”, which was placed as a badge of shame on the desk of any officer who approved an asylum application.

    Perrett, 29, also alleges that one official boasted to her that he tested the claims of boys from African countries who said they had been forcibly conscripted as child soldiers by making them lie down on the floor and demonstrate how they shot at people in the bush. One method used to determine the authenticity of an asylum seeker claiming to be from North Korea was to ask whether the person ate chop suey…

    She claims the tone was set on the first day when one manager said of the asylum-seeker clients: “If it was up to me I’d take them all outside and shoot them.” Another told her this was to be expected, adding: “No one in this office is very PC. In fact everyone is the exact opposite.”

    She told the Guardian: “I witnessed general hostility, rudeness and indifference towards clients. It was completely horrific. I highlighted my concerns to senior managers but I was just laughed at. I decided to speak out because nobody else was saying anything and major changes are needed at senior management level.”

    One of her cases involved a Congolese woman who had the right to remain in the UK. Perrett says a superior nevertheless decided the woman and her children should be removed, and asked officials whether there were any grounds to remove them. Frustrated, she approached a member of the legal department. His reply, according to Perrett, was: “Umbongo, umbongo, they kill them in the Congo.”

    Asylum-seekers can appeal to the First-tier Tribunal, but tribunal judges are often no better.

    Have you ever read Oscar Wilde? Do you use sex toys? Why have you not attended a Pride march? These are just some of the questions that have been asked of lesbian asylum seekers in what one academic says shows shocking levels of ignorance and prejudice among tribunal judges…

    One woman from Jamaica was told by an immigration judge that he did not believe she was homosexual because “you don’t look like a lesbian”. Another lesbian asylum seeker from Pakistan was asked in court “If you are a lesbian you go to clubs – which ones?” despite her being a Muslim woman who did not drink. Her credibility as a lesbian was also questioned because she had not attended a Pride march and the immigration judge her that “all lesbians go to Pride”.

    One woman from Uganda – where gay men and women are subjected to increasingly horrific, state-sponsored homophobic violence – said she was even asked whether she’d ever read Oscar Wilde.

    “They have in their mind this stereotypical lesbian woman with short hair and no make-up, they just expect you to conform to what they believe a lesbian woman should be like and how they behave,” the woman, who is not named, told researchers. “They want all of us to have short hair and piercings, it’s really, really stereotypical, and they ask you what shows you watch?”

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