The UK Border Agency is yet again trying to deport asylum seekers who are gay or who are thought to be gay back to Uganda. Uganda remember is the country which until very recently was debating passing a bill in their parliament which would punish homosexuality by death. Imagine what sort of attitudes are fuelling that level of hatred, and imagine what effects such mainstream views would have on how people treat gay people or people who are thought to be gay. How can the Home Office, allegedly a champion of gay rights for its staff, still be indifferent to the consequences of homophobia abroad? Others agree:
Emma Ginn, co-ordinator of Medical Justice, said: “Despite compelling medical evidence, the UK Border Agency disbelieves Ms Tibikawa’s story. UKBA do not dispute that Ms Tibikawa has scars caused by a hot flat iron, but conclude that she did not suffer any ill-treatment in Uganda. We condemn the fact that they intend to deport Ms Tibakawa to a country where being gay is illegal and puts your life at risk.”
Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Gauri van Gulik said: “Our research has shown that many cases of women like Betty are not taken seriously by the UK Border Agency. Unfortunately women who suffer this kind of violence have serious difficulty claiming asylum.”
Betty Tibakawa, a young lesbian living in Uganda, had gone for a walk on the beach when she was approached by three men she did not know, but who knew her by reputation, who began taunting her about her sexuality.
They took her to a disused building where she was violently assaulted. The men kicked her in the stomach, pinned her down and branded her inner thighs with hot irons. She lost consciousness and when she woke up, the men were gone. Her injuries were so severe that she could not leave her home for two months.
In February, Ugandan magazine Red Pepper outed Betty as a lesbian, publishing an article about her illustrated with photos, and the claim that she is ‘wanted’ for being a lesbian.
It has become incredibly dangerous for her to return to Uganda, where she has been disowned by her family and faces the risk of violent persecution for being gay.
Betty Tibakawa has had her asylum application turned down and is facing deportation back to Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal. Gay women who are deported to Uganda risk being raped and assaulted whilst they are in custody.
We are petitioning the Home Office to overrule this decision from the UK Border Agency, to give Betty the chance to live a life free from violence and fear. No one should be deported to country where they will be persecuted for their sexuality. We owe those seeking asylum in this country better than this.
Please sign the petition from this page.
Petition put together by Betty Tibakawa’s Campaign Group.
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