People are being killed in Uganda for being gay, and the ConDems are making a huge play about being gay friendly and more civil liberties friendly than their New Labour predecessors, but is Theresa May’s Home Office any less blind to homophobia against asylum seekers than Alan Johnson’s or Jacqui Smith’s? Read the story of Brenda Namigadde, who faces deportation to Uganda, where her life will be without question at risk:
Inside Yarl’s Wood detention centre, awaiting deportation to Uganda in less than 24 hours, Brenda Namigadde is desperate.
Namigadde fled her home country eight years ago after being persecuted for her relationship with another woman. She says she has always intended to return home when “things were better”. But things, she says, have just got worse.
After the murder of the gay Ugandan activist David Kato and with a chilling warning from Ugandan MP David Bahati ringing in her ears, she says she fears her life is over. Bahati, the author of a bill which would impose the death penalty on homosexuals, intervened in Namigadde’s case to warn her she should “repent” or be arrested on her return.
Speaking from Yarl’s Wood, Namigadde, 29, says: “My life is in danger. I don’t know what will happen to me. I’m very scared. I haven’t eaten, I haven’t slept.”
She knows from experience what returning to her country will mean for her, she says. “I’ll be tortured, or killed, if I’m sent back. They’ve put people like me to death there.”
My point is this: even if the UK Border Agency were convinced (which they are) that she’s not gay (she demonstrably is), using the argument they always fall back on that ‘anyone could claim asylum by just pretending to be gay’, how could she morally be repatriated if Ugandan homophobes are on public record threatening her life anyway? The agency, a branch of the supposedly gay-friendly Home Office (don’t make me laugh, Stonewall), may not have suggested she just go home and ‘be discreet’ as they did under New Labour with gay Iranian asylum seekers, but just saying ‘she can’t prove she’s gay’ is surely no more acceptable.
Her asylum claim was turned down partly on the basis that the judge did not believe there was any evidence that she was homosexual.
Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border Agency, said her case had been considered by both the UK Border Agency and the courts on two separate occasions. “She has been found not to have a right to remain here,” he said. “An Immigration Judge found on the evidence before him that Ms Namigadde was not homosexual.”
What should she do to prove her sexual orientation? Have sex with a woman in front of a judge? For that matter is Coats suggesting that the story the Guardian reports of her past relationship is a lie? I’d be interested to know what criteria the UK Border Agency uses to prove whether or not someone is ‘homosexual’, and whether or not they take into account whether or not other people, even erroneously, believe they’re gay. The coalition agreement says:
“We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution.”
And what about the http://madikazemi.blogspot.com/2011/01/in-uk-new-instructions-on-deciding-lgbt.html, forcibly updated by the Supreme Court?
Brenda Namigadde must not be deported to Uganda.