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African Rainbow Family

Support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTIQ) People of African Heritage including Refugees and wider Black and Asian Minority Ethnic Groups

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The Report: Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum

African Rainbow Family
A World Without Prejudice

Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum

On 11th August 2018 in Manchester, African Rainbow Family held our second annual conference, Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum.

The conference attracted delegates from diverse walks of life with speakers whom are  ‘Experts by Experience’ (our members), including speakers from the House of Lords – Baroness Liz Barker, European Parliament – Julie Ward MEP, Manchester City Council – Councillor Bev Craig , No5 Chambers – Barrister S. Chelvan, grassroot organisations such as The Outside Project – Carla Ecola, Safety4Sisters – Sandhya Sharma as well as LGBT Foundation – Sophie. The report from the conference is available here.

‘Experimental’ data released by the Home Office in November 2017 for LGBT+ asylum cases (01/07/15 – 31/03/17) shows that over two third of  3,535 asylum applications made partly as LGBT+ were rejected. 2,379 clear LGBT+ claims were rejected, with only 838 approved (Home Office Asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation EXPERIMENTAL STATISTICS 2017).

“In view of the immense pressure placed on LGBTIQ people seeking asylum by a way of the high bar sexuality proof policy of the Home Office, people feel desperate to prove their sexuality and or gender identity hence fall prey to sexual predators, abusive relationships, modern day slavery and all sorts of abuse” says Aderonke Apata, LGBTIQ activist and Founder, African Rainbow Family. The full report can be accessed here. You can also DOWNLOAD now.

The conference also enjoyed good will and generosity from various individuals and organisations that sponsored different parts of the event.  Sponsors are The FederationCo-op Digital, Olimpia Burchiellaro, Kirit Patel, Sandhya Sharma and Toby Bakare. We were also ‘supported by the Co-op Foundation and Omidyar Network’, Greater Manchester Unite Social Action Branch, UNISON NW LGBT SELF ORGANISED GROUP and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group.

African Rainbow Family relies heavily on volunteers in delivering the essential work we do with LGBTIQ people seeking asylum. Should you feel like supporting our work to make practical social change, do consider donating here or contact us through info@africanrainbowfamily.org to discuss different options on how you might like to support our work.

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Press Release: LGBTIQ refugee conference calls for end to sexual abuse, exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and high standard of proof sexuality policy

LGBTIQ refugee conference calls for end to sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of LGBTIQ refugees and high standard of proof sexuality policy

  • Conference exposes unreported sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic violence and servitude  in LGBTIQ people seeking asylum community
  • Refugee speakers will tell of their experiences of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. Explore ongoing plight of LGBTIQ people seeking asylum in UK
  • Conference will encourage victims to come forward for their voices to be heard
  • Call for Home Office to drop its high standard of proof sexuality policy

Manchester will host again, the second LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee conference today [11th August], shining the light on the extent of active and subtle sexual and  domestic abuse, sexual exploitation, modern day slavery and trafficking that exists in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum’s community in the UK. Mostly perpetrated by people who owe them duty of care.

The conference will, following the #METOO movement, feature LGBTIQ refugee speakers telling their personal experiences of abuse, exploring how the hostile environment which seeks to deport as many people as possible in order to meet Home Office’s  set targets, such as in the Windrush Generation; has reinforced a high standard of proof sexuality policy in the Home Office leading to many LGBTIQs being refused asylum and highlighting the plight still faced by LGBTIQ people seeking asylum today.

In many countries, particularly in Africa, homosexuality remains illegal and violent attacks on LGBTIQ people are common. Many are forced to flee, some to the UK, after being publicly ‘outed’.

Gay people seeking asylum coming to the UK face significant barriers. The Home Office culture of disbelief has meant that it refuses to accept that any LGBTIQ seeking asylum are homosexual unless they provide ‘proof of sexuality’. This position is an extremely toxic shift towards high number of deportation following the ruling in 2010 which prohibits the Home Office from deporting LGBTIQ people seeking asylum on the grounds that they could ‘be discreet’ about their sexuality in their home country to avoid harm.

We know that the Home Office has and continues to illegally and forcibly deport many LGBTIQ people seeking asylum through its brutal charter flight methods.

‘Experimental’ data released by the Home Office in November 2017 for LGBT+ asylum cases (01/07/15 – 31/03/17) shows that over two third of  3,535 asylum applications made partly as LGBT+ were rejected.
2,379 clear LGBT+ claims were rejected, with only 838 approved.

The conference is being organised by African Rainbow Family (ARF), a charitable group that supports LGBTIQ people of African heritage and wider BAME in the UK. ARF works with the growing African LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refugee communities including wider BAME who face harassment, hate crimes and discrimination.
It will see a call on the Home Office to abandon its ‘high standard of proof sexuality policy, which ARF says is demeaning, humiliating, dehumanising, cruel and a driver of the culture of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation in their community.

Speakers will include:

  • Baroness Liz Barker, Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords
  • Barrister S. Chelvan, LGBTIQ No5 Barristers’ Chambers, 2018 Attitude Awards
  • ‘Experts by Experience’ (LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and Refuge)
  • Paul Dillane, Chief Executive of Kaleidoscope Trust
  • Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West of England
  • Carla Ecola, Director of The Outside Project, the UK’s first LGBTIQ+ crisis/homeless shelter.
  • Bev Craig, Labour Councillor for Burnage
  • Aderonke Apata LGBTIQ campaigner and founder, African Rainbow Family

Aderonke Apata, Founder of the ARF and a long-term campaigner on LGBTIQ asylum, who is also speaking at the conference, said:

“We are starting a cultural revolution which forms a platform to inspire LGBTIQ people seeking asylum to come forward, tell their experiences of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and let their voices to be heard in order for us to see consequences in terms of their perpetrators who owe them a duty of care to be brought to justice.

“The Home Office’s high standard of proof policy drives a culture of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, modern day slavery and all forms of emotional, psychological and mental problems in the LGBTIQ people seeking asylum’s community

“I ask that the Home Office drops their high standard of proof in sexuality policy as well as the wider asylum applications.”

/ENDS

Notes to editors:

More information and tickets to the conference: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/unreported-sexual-abuse-exploitation-of-lgbtiqs-seeking-asylum-uk-tickets-48018563817

More information about the African Rainbow Family: https://africanrainbowfamily.org/

For press request, contact: aderonkeapata@africanrainbowfamily.org and                                    info@africanrainbowfamily.org

Homosexuality remains a criminal offence in 72 countries and in 14 is punishable by lengthy imprisonment and in 8, death – including in Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Pakistan.

Our sponsors:
The Federation Co-op Digital, Olimpia Burchiellaro, Kirit Patel, Sandhya Sharma, UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group, we are ‘supported by the Co-op Foundation and Omidyar Network’.

Lesbian Visibility Day – We Are Human

Lesbian Visibility Day – We Are Human

The Lesbian Visibility Day means a lot. It is for us as lesbians to celebrate our richness in diversity, be proud of ourselves and work in solidarity with other oppressed groups. To me, I see it as a day when we celebrate whom we are as non conforming to heteronormative narrative and ask for freedom for those denied freedom to be who they are especially lesbian people seeking asylum hence African Rainbow Family celebrates Lesbian Visibility Day as we use it to also continually raise awareness about lesbian people of colour and demanding a fair and humane asylum system for lesbians as part of our vital work in supporting people seeking asylum.

“I find my invitation to the European Parliament to speak about issues faced by lesbians seeking asylum in Europe including the demand to end detention, deportation and unsafe living conditions for lesbian* people seeking asylum and refugees at the European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C), organised in collaboration with the European’s Parliament Intergroup on LGBTI Rights to be well thoughtful and positive steps in expanding the conversation to be inclusive of lesbians of colour and those seeking sanctuary” says Aderonke Apata, founder of African Rainbow Family.

It is important that we are visible as lesbians in order to avoid our erasure! There are many lesbians around the world that live in fear of freely identifying as one in countries that criminalise love especially in the 36 Commonwealth countries where love is illegal including Nigeria that also has death penalty in place. The more we celebrate Lesbian Visibility Day, continue the conversation; the more we raise awareness around the fact that love is not illegal, encourage lesbians in the closet to ‘come out’ and demand their freedom to be who they are.
This brings me back home to lesbian women that are seeking asylum in the UK and other countries alike. The treatment of lesbians seeking asylum in the UK by the Home Office is disgraceful and appalling! This dates back to the homophobia exported to Commonwealth countries by Britain; although Prime Minister Theresa May has apologised for this. The culture of disbelief of lesbians seeking asylum is egregious, we are locked up indefinitely in detention centre and a high proportion get deported cruelly back to their countries to face torture. The institutionalised homophobia of Home Office is of the highest order; they believe that you cannot be a lesbian and have child(ren) or have been married previously due to conforming to societal norms. This is one of the reasons why Lesbian Visibility Day is so important.

Sign up to our #WeAreHuman Manchester declaration here

Read more about the European Lesbian* Conference (EL*C), here.

Rally To Stop Mass Deportations of LGBTI Asylum Seekers To Nigeria – End Charter Flights

 

Rally To Stop Mass Deportations of LGBTI Asylum Seekers To Nigeria – End Charter Flights

Friends,

The Nigerian government through her High Commission Office in London, is complicit in colluding with the UK Home Office Immigration Enforcement in their ethnic / immigrants cleansing mass deportations of LGBTI asylum seekers back to Nigeria using the dubious charter flight regime.

Nigeria in 2014, passed an insidious anti LGBTI law – the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill adjudged to be one of the harshest and most punitive of the many laws in nearly 80 countries that criminalise Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

“Since the insidious 2014 anti-LGBTI law was passed in Nigeria, there have been waves of police arrests and torture, anti-LGBTI mob attacks, public whippings, evictions from homes, harassment and discrimination against ‘suspected’ LGBTIs. Equality advocacy organisations and activists in Nigeria are not spared mistreatments” says Aderonke Apata, LGBTIQ Advocate from Nigeria. 

On 17th May, the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT), for which the theme is ‘family’, we are holding a solidarity rally to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow LGBTI siblings and family in the UK facing the threat of deportations back to Nigeria and other homophobic countries to say no more LGBTI asylum seekers’ deportations to Nigeria. Visit the event page here.

Many LGBTI asylum seekers have been deported back to Nigeria using the charter flights. These charter flights usually leave from an undisclosed UK airport in middle of the nights with specially trained escort guards (one escort assigned to one deportee) on a Cargo Aircraft! Each person on the charter flight costs up to £5000 on each trip that tears and rips apart partners, parents from their children, people from the community that they have developed in the UK for many years. Amongst the people deported are:
• LGBTI asylum seekers with potential 14 years imprisonment
and jungle justice from non state agents upon arrival in Nigeria are deported.
• Many with ongoing asylum and immigration cases denied the right to justice by their deportations.
• Many whom are UNFIT to fly.
• Many whom have been in the UK for over decades.
• Many whom have made the UK their homes.
• Many with no ties to Nigeria.
• Many whom are not Nigerians.

The case of Oyekunle, a gay man from Nigeria is just an example of LGBTI people being unlawfully deported back to Nigeria via charter flights as reported by The Unity Centre Glasgow during the MASS DEPORTATION charter flight of January 31st 2017 thus:

“Oyekunle is a gay man from Nigeria – one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT people – who came to the UK 4 years ago and claimed asylum. After his initial screening interview he was briefly detained. He has never had a full interview because the Home Office sent the notification to the wrong address. They are arguing that his claim has lapsed; he has been detained again and is scheduled to be part of Tuesday night’s mass deportation to Nigeria by charter flight. You can ring Stansted Airport and Titan Airways to tell them that it is unlawful for them to remove Oyekunle from the UK whilst his asylum claim has not been answered by the Home Office”

The above is confirmed by Olakunle Akindele Bamgbose, acting high commissioner to the UK in an interview with The Guardian newspaper last year that “UK pressures Nigeria to help Home Office increase deportations”. Olakunle said:

“His embassy was being asked to help remove people who were sick, had immigration appeals outstanding, had no ties to Nigeria after living for many years in the UK and who in some cases were not even Nigerian.”

“It’s a big issue for us here at the embassy,” he said. “There are cases where people have been here for decades. Some of them are not even Nigerian: they came to Britain on false passports originally but the UK want us to accept them back to Nigeria” he continued.

 Despite the above facts from Olakunle Akindele Bamgbose, the charter flights continue on a monthly basis wrecking havoc to many lives.

Many people on the charter flights are said even not to be Nigerians! Even if they are all Nigerians, we still say no to deportations of LGBTI asylum seekers and all mass deportations including using charter flights.

We believe the use of charter flights are criminal, cruel, racist and against the human rights of the people deported. Our belief is corroborated by this briefing, “Collective Expulsion: The Case Against Britain’s Mass Deportation Charter Flights” by Corporate Watch and Stop Deportation on the Home Office’s use of charter flights for deportations.

Angered by the negative effects that UK’s mass deportations have on people, activists from the Stop Charter Flights – End Deportations, Plane Stupid and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants protested in a direct action against a chartered flight at the Stanted Airport in a ten-hour occupation of the runway to prevent the mass deportation due to deport 50 people to Nigeria and Ghana from happening on 28th March 2017.

Friends, would you join us to keep LGBTI asylum seekers safe from persecution, imprisonment and possibly deaths? Join Stop The Mass Deportation Of LGBTI Asylum Seekers on 17th May 2pm at Nigeria high commission and DEMAND that:

1) Nigeria High Commission must stop issuing Travel Documents for deportation purposes
2)Nigerian Government must not allow the landing of charter flights on Nigerian soil
3) Nigerian Government, take a stand against deportations of your citizens
4) Demand the British Government to allow Nigerians whom have lived in the UK for at least 5 years to be given right to remain in the UK – they are Commonwealth citizens.

This event is organised by Aderonke Apata from the AfricanRainbowFamily and Noorulann Donald Shahid from NUS LGBT+ Campaign.

The event is also supported by
Manchester MiSol
Stop Charter Flights – End Deportations
Unity Centre
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Bethan Turner

 

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