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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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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’.

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Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

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Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

It is happening in our community! We can’t turn a blind eye and pretend there is/are no problem(s) of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse/violence, trafficking and domestic servitude – modern day slavery in the LGBTIQ asylum seeking and refugee community.

As ‘Experts by Experience’, our wealth of personal and direct experiences through the asylum and immigration system for over a decade, campaigning for a social change in this draconian, toxic system and hostile environment; we know that our community is constantly oppressed as a result of what people believe is our vulnerability; hence a pocket-full the mainstream population capitalise on this and exploit us. After all, we are not victims but survivors! #MeToo is unreported in our community, African Rainbow Family is shining the light on this at our 2018 annual conference in Manchester on 11/08/2018.

If you’ve not yet registered to attend African Rainbow Family’s second Annual Conference titled Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK in Manchester on Saturday, 11th August 2018; now is the time to do so! Register free here. Read about our incredible speakers here and information about our last year’s stall bookings here.  Book your stall here.

African Rainbow Family has been incredibly blessed by the generosity of The Federation, Co-op Digital Olimpia BurchiellaroKirit Patel, through funding the Co-op Foundation has received from Omidyar Network and UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group whom are sponsoring different parts of our Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 2018 Annual Conference!  You and or your organisation can still join our valuable sponsors this year to sponsor other bits of the conference. Contact info@africanrainbowfamily.org on how you can be involved this year or for 2019.

As you are aware, African Rainbow Family is a non-for profit charitable movement supporting over 250 LGBTIQ people seeking asylum (and still counting) in the UK whilst intensifying our work of global equality campaign for ‘A World Without Prejudice’. We operate with little or no money but rely on people like you.

Can you help? Will you chip in £5, £10 or more every month to help our work? We would remain grateful for that. Contact us or visit our website for details of how to set up a monthly standing order, make one off donation and other ways to support to us.

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.

PRESS RELEASE African Rainbow Family has been shortlisted for the UK’ Largest Diversity Awards.

Press Release

04 July 2017, Manchester

African Rainbow Family has been shortlisted!

African Rainbow Family has been shortlisted for the UK’ Largest Diversity Awards.

Dear friends,

We are delighted to announce that African Rainbow Family from Manchester has been shortlisted for the Community Organisation for LGBT at the National Diversity Awards 2017.

Charities and role models from across the UK will gather at the breathtaking Anglican Cathedral on September 08th 2017 for the UK’s largest celebration of diversity.

The best of British diversity will travel to Liverpool to showcase the outstanding achievements of those who have demonstrated their devotion to enhancing equality, diversity and inclusion in today’s society.

Over 22,000 nominations and votes were received this year, paying tribute to grass root communities nationwide.

African Rainbow Family, a dedicated support group for LGBTIQ refugees, people of African heritage and wider BAME community in the UK says:

 “The prestigious black tie event is definitely one to mark down on your calendar and provides recognition for excellence regardless of race, faith, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability and culture.”

Microsoft will be just one of the brands supporting a skyfall of diverse talent alongside joint Headline Sponsors Direct Line Group.

Paul Geddes, CEO, Direct Line Group said ” We know that having a diverse workforce not only brings in more talent, it increases the variety of thinking, enabling us to have a better understanding of our customers’ needs in an ever-changing Britain.”

“The momentum is gathering pace” he continued “but there is more all businesses can do to pave the way for change. We are therefore honoured to be sponsoring the National Diversity Awards to celebrate the success of role models, businesses and organisations who are leading the way to true diversity and inclusion in our society.”

Designed to highlight the country’s most inspirational and selfless people, the NDA’s are supported by the likes of Stephen Fry, Adam Hills and Sir Lenny Henry amongst many.

TV Presenter Graham Norton Said “Promoting and celebrating diversity is close to my heart which is why I am thrilled to support The National Diversity Awards! I want to wish all of this year’s shortlisted nominees the best of luck for the ceremony, you all deserve to win!’’

Previous winners include Huddersfield based Disability Theatre Group Shabang!, Freedom Fighting Refugee Aderonke Apata, and Transgender Support Charity Mermaids.

Internationally acclaimed contemporary artist, Rachel looked back on her time winning the positive role model award in 2013 “It truly was a tremendously uplifting emotional evening, and I don’t think there was a single person in the room who would disagree with that! The evening represented everything that is good about our society”.

Rachel went on to receive the award for battling successfully against a potentially life limiting illness to produce works of art that are applauded worldwide.

She continued “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for creating an exceptional night, the challenges ahead are still enormous, but with the ND Award in my hand, I will journey forward with renewed hope and ambition to try to do so much more, and in my efforts, hopefully I will, in some way, contribute to making the vital cultural shift within our society.”

Paul Sesay, Founder and CEO of The National Diversity Awards said “I am so proud to be able to witness the journeys of some of the most inspiring role models this country has to offer. Each year I am overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of nominations, and those shortlisted should know how privileged I am to share your stories with the nation. You are all winners and I can’t wait to meet you at the ceremony.”

To view a full list of nominees please visit www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/shortlist

To help our work, consider donating to African Rainbow Family here

End

Stonewall Uprising: Rooting For Love

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Press Release, 4th July 2016

On the the 28th June 2016, members of African Rainbow Family, ACT UP LONDON and over 5000 people gathered at the Trafalgar Square in London to celebrate love and commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and radical LGBTIQ resistance, love and unity! Details of event here. “The event largely regarded as a catalyst for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) liberation movement for civil rights”, It’s astonishing therefore, that consensual same-sex relationships amongst adults are still widely criminalised in about a third of the world’s population. About 75 countries criminalise homosexuality, 53 of these are from the Commonwealth where all of African Rainbow Family members flee from following the wave of homophobia whipped against them.

It was an opportunity for our members to really celebrate Stonewall Uprising which saw lesbian gay bisexual transgender intersex queer and asexual (LGBTIQA+ ) community standing up and shutting down state repression, homophobia, trans misogyny and racism. The legacy, that we all enjoy today. It was an amazing experience to be part of history not to let fall the passion, resistance and bravery of our brothers, sisters, siblings who fought for the rights we enjoy now! They demanded “equality for homosexuals”, “Gay Power” and “Freedom Now”!

African Rainbow Family at the event, demanded that The Prime Minister, David Cameron and his government, The Foreign Office and Department for International Development (DfID) should as a matter of urgency put their words into practice and act thus:

  • Make available Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) nationwide to people who wish to have access to it; as promised by David Cameron.
  • Protect LGBT asylum seekers, grant them sanctuary in the UK and shut down detention centres.
  • Use their influence in engageing with the 40n out of the 53 Commonwealth countries that still criminalise consensual adult same-sex relationships to repeal such laws as the first step in changing cultural attitudes towards LGBT people.
  • Adopt the recommendations of the newly published inquiry report into The UK’s stance on international breaches of LGBT rights by The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT).

We took the message of love, solidarity and struggle and Root For Love in Trafalgar Square. Built a community committed to radical grassroots protests and empowerment for the whole community as all injustices are connected. “No single issue-struggle” – Audre Lorde.

We would like to thank those who donated generously and sponsored our members on this trip to celebrate diversity through song, dance, spoken words and sequins whilst challenging outdated perceptions, xenophobia, healthcare austerity and bigotry!

We continually fight for justice and building a strong contingent to counter LGBT discrimination, austerity HIVphobia, gender based violence, anti-black racism, double standards of political and religious leaders and LGBT xenophobia that still continue to attack our community. You made it possible for us to:

  • Pay tributes to founders of true radical LGBTIQA+ liberation
  • Have a feel of how liberation as LGBTIQ people was made a dream come true!
  • Unite in a joyful protest to send good tides to homophobic, repressive and draconian governments of countries where people are still criminalise for LOVE.
  • Spur our members who come from countries with repressive draconian laws against LGBTIQ people to think of how they could influence change in their different countries and one day achieve their liberation and freedom to be whom they are and equal before the laws of their lands.
  • Raise awareness and retell the story of the historic Stonewall Uprising once again in our communities in the UK.
  • Attract the media, encourage schools to engage in how the freedom of equality we enjoy today in the UK came about.

End.

For enquiries and media interests please contact:

info@africanrainbowfamily.org or www.africanrainbowfamily.org

UK Parliament Urges For More Actions To Tackle Serious Breaches of LGBT Rights Globally

Press Release

14th April 2016 UK.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT) that recently had an inquiry into breaches of LGBT rights worldwide which African Rainbow Family and Aderonke Apata contributed to, has today, published its first report on  UK stance on international breaches of LGBT rights.

We welcome the findings and recommendations of APPG LGBT report particularly as it recognises that in the Home Office concerning LGBT asylum seekers: “The decision-making process needs to be improved in assessing LGBT asylum cases through improved staff training, potentially appointing specialist caseworkers for LGBT asylum cases. The policy guidance on gender identity claims needs to be reviewed”.

The need to offer protection to LGBT asylum seekers by the UK is equally paramount says members of African Rainbow Family who collectively say:

“We flee from these countries that this report has identified to breach our rights as LGBT people but we find it difficult why we are often not believed when we claim asylum in the UK based on our sexual orientation and gender identity due to our fears of persecution back in our home countries! We face the threat of deportation to violence from the UK, we hope this report will make a dramatic change in the handling of our claims, stop detaining us and subjecting us to more torture in the UK”

The report also goes to say “Voluntary groups fighting for LGBT rights in hostile environments around the world need more support from the UK, including the government, NGOs and businesses”. The report urges for “more practical support and funding for LGBT groups on the ground, as well as greater strategic co-ordination across government, to improve the effectiveness of British action”.

The group, which is supported by more than 100 MPs and Peers across the political parties, also calls for a clearly accountable figure to be appointed in Whitehall with the responsibility for co-ordinating and implementing a cross-government strategy.

The report states that 75 countries criminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults, accounting for 2.9 billion people or 40 per cent of the world’s population.  The punishment for these offences can be severe, with penalties ranging from lashings, life imprisonment and, in eight countries, death.  Over 400 million people live under laws which punish same-sex sexual activity with the death penalty.

Aderonke Apata, founder of African Rainbow Family, a Nigerian human right activist and LGBT Equality advocate in her reaction to the report says:

“It is a good report, the scope of its finding is wide-ranged and recommendations are encouraging. The bane of it all is in the implementation of its recommendations. Don’t forget that most of these countries that criminalise LGBT people inherited these anti LGBT laws from their colonial master, Britain. It is imperatively important therefore, that the UK apologises for the pains and agony caused to LGBT people as a resultant of this archaic law.

Consultations and partnership collaboration need to be established by the UK government and LGBT citizens/activists of these countries including local civil rights group to ensure issues of  breaches of the rights of LGBT people are  addressed in an holistic manner. I urge the APPG LGBT group not to allow their hard work get swept under the carpet or allow this innovative report gather dust on the shelve”. Aderonke continues.

The APPG LGBT says “Beyond a vulnerability to violence, the report finds that LGBT people in countries which are hostile to their rights face a range of challenges, including economic and social exclusion and restricted access to health and other vital services.

The 60-page report is the first produced by the APPG LGBT which was set up by parliamentarians from across the political parties in June last year.  The group initiated a major inquiry into LGBT rights abuses, receiving submissions from over 40 organisations and individuals, and holding detailed oral evidence sessions at Westminster. The full report, including a summary of recommendations, can be found here

For more information, contact info@africanrainbowfamily.org

ENDS

 

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