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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 Future of The Asylum System – UK

For explanation purposes, seeking asylum means seeking protection from strict laws, death penalties, inhumane laws and maybe wars.

photo credit: Vanessa

The asylum system which was designed literally to protect every now and then, seeks to go against the main purpose it was created for. I will explain how.

As a lesbian woman who has to prove that I am a lesbian in order to get protection here in the United Kingdom (UK), I have to provide evidence of my sexuality. How is it expected that someone running from a homophobic country and who has been in the closet for most of her life, to give evidence of that.

Also disclosing information about the women that one must have dated in hiding or even asking them for letters and/or any evidence to corroborate one’s story is in fact a security breach.

Some of us who are out or were outed, move out to enjoy the LGBT scene by going to pride, gay bars, speaking up against homophobia, racism and discrimination and it is no longer a secret. It means that if one ever goes back to one’s own country of origin, that person is risking their life.

Some people think that putting ourselves out there might just be for the asylum process but no, it is like getting out of prison and wanting to do everything that one could not do when in chains.

That is how an LGBT person seeking asylum feels in a country where they can be themselves even though the asylum process makes it hard for one to enjoy that.

The new rules, that are about to kick off are extremely difficult and absurd. They include:

  • Housing people seeking asylum in reception centres, potentially overseas, while their asylum claims are being processed.
  • Moving those refused asylum through a fast-tracked appeals process and curtailing the right to challenge refusal decisions.
  • Requiring all evidence to be submitted at the beginning of the asylum process, telling judges to “give weight” to evidence raised alter and requiring a higher standard of proof for these.
  • “Clarifying” what qualifies as a “well founded fear of persecution” and making it “much harder” for people to be granted refugee status based on “unsubstantiated” claims.

I wonder what intent Priti Patel, The Secretary of State for the Home Department, actually has for the future of the asylum system because it is not to protect anymore but to refuse protection.

Keeping people seeking asylum in reception centres is not safe especially for an LGBT person. More especially for a gay man, transgender, lesbian woman etc.

Already there have been complaints about abuse in the asylum housing system. Imagine how it would then be like in reception centres that might not actually be in the country that one has put in one’s asylum application for protection.

The idea of “requiring all evidence to be submitted at the beginning of the asylum process, telling judges to give “minimal weight” to evidence raised later and requiring a higher standard of proof” is impractical and outright wicked to say the least because it means as an LGBT person seeking asylum, if you do not have a proof of your sexuality from the start then you are not valid and could be turned away.

Let us be practical here, a lesbian woman from Nigeria or Ghana who is obviously running for her life or has been in hiding, dating a woman behind closed doors and looking for a way out, puts in her asylum application and is asked for evidence from the start when all she has is her story and stories of the homophobic laws in her country which can easily be found on the internet. How can she provide proof of same-sex personal relationships?

How unfair is it to this lesbian because sometimes even with all the proof and letters, one still gets their asylum application refused.

These proposals are so harsh and inhumane. When I look at the future of the asylum process for people like me who might want to live their lives devoid of fear, and if these proposals are passed it will become very difficult. It will in fact not be an asylum system that protects but a system that is toxic, blind to justice and human rights and/or lives.

I ask that people look into the different Home Office asylum proposals. Not just the ones that I spoke about but also the ones that stop children from uniting with their families. Speak up against these laws, show support and love for people in the asylum process because news like this can be heart breaking.

Join the cause to stop these laws. Donate to African Rainbow Family. Like and share this piece.

Ends.

By: Vanessa Nessakem Nwosu. 7th April 2021.

Trustee, Media Volunteer and Member

African Rainbow Family

LGBTQ+ History Month: The History Decides the Future!

Photo credit: Nadim Uddin, African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, 2021.

Just like the Bible, history is more like a proof of existence. History gives meaning to the present. History is a reference when we need to gain strength.

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Throughout the month of February each year, over the past few years, we celebrate the LGBTQ+ History Month and it is a time we remember all those who fought for our existence and freedom.

African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, Vanessa Nessakem Nwosu writes:

“Personally, it means a lot to me because knowing that my queerness exists past and present gives me so much relevance. It means that I am not alone and it gives me strength to become more of myself. Knowing history adds to my relevance, as a queer woman seeking asylum, it is from reading about women like Audre Lorde that I gain strength in who I am. I am not ashamed, I am empowered just by knowing my queerness exist past and present.”

Nadim Uddin, another African Rainbow Family‘s Media and Communications Volunteer, writes:

“LGBT History Month to me, is to remember those without rights. To remember how we got rights. Raise awareness about historical and current progress and challenges for LGBTQ+ people. To support those raising awareness of sexual orientation and gender identity, equality and diversity. To learn how to change the world. To remember how far we’ve come, even recently.

Nadim reminds us that Winston Churchill famously said: “History is written by the victors.”

The women I celebrate this month are Marsha P Johnson, Audre Lorde and Anne Lister. I choose these women because I see little parts of myself in them. I see the courage I am still hoping to build from them. I see my future in them. Learning from past heroes means looking at their strengths and finding ways to make yours. I want to be outspoken and bold as Marsha. I want to be confident and be a warrior like Audre and I want to live openly and document all my Sapphic encounters just like Anne Lister.” Vanessa continues.

Marsha P Johnson. Photo credit: NBC New

“History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.” Marsha P Johnson.

Audre Lorde. Photo credit: BBC 3 Free Thinking.

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” -Audre Lorde.

Anne Lister Photo Credit: bridgemanimages 

“I know my own heart and understand my fellow man. But I am made unlike anyone I have ever met. I dare to say I am like no one in the whole world.” Anne Lister.

The above are my favourite quotes from my heroes and I hope it speaks to you. We can only write our history if we speak up. Document your life, do not be erased,do not be silent. For every closeted person there is an out person who lives an exemplary life for you to learn from. It doesn’t mean you have to come out, it means that you are not alone and you can be happy. This is what LGBT history means to me. Vanessa says.

Happy LGBTQ+ History Month, 2021.

Ends.

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Meet Our Speakers At Unreported! Sexual Abuse & Exploitation of LGBTIQs Seeking Asylum, UK 

 

 

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Meet Our Speakers! – African Rainbow Family Annual Conference, Manchester. 11/08/2018

The #MeToo unreported world of LGBTIQ people seeking asylum and refuge in the UK is real!

On Saturday, 11/8/2018, our amazing ‘Experts by Experience’ whom are members of African Rainbow Family (Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds branches) will share their personal realities of sexual abuse/exploitation, domestic abuse/violence, trafficking and modern day slavery.

Alongside our incredible friends and allies, Baroness Liz Barker, Carla Ecola, Julie Ward MEP, S Chelvan, Sandhya Sharma, Sophie Beer-O’Brien, Paul Dillane and Councillor Bev Craig; we would explore how to end these absurd practices. Read more about our speakers here. Robin Graham will entertain us too.

Join our WeAreHuman Manchester declaration campaign here.

LGBT Asylum Seekers & Refugees Tell Their Stories In Manchester!

Twitter size CMeet Our Speakers @AfricanRainbow1 #LGBTRefugees Tell Their Stories,Celebrate 50 yrs of UK #LGBT law reform 21/6/17 join free seminar http://ow.ly/zFkq30bX0Im at Methodist Hall, Oldham Street Manchester. M1 1JQ.

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

International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) 2016 : Mental Health and Well Being

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This year, the theme of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT2016) is Mental Health and Well Being.

Mental health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing where every individual realises own potential. Cope with stress of life, work productively and fruitfully and able to contribute to her or his community. Unfortunately for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people including those who are nonbinary living in any of the over 70 countries in the world where consensual same-sex relationships are criminalised and even sometimes by death penalty; it is absolutely impossible to fulfill any meaningful mental health.

Hear what Aderonke Apata, Nigerian human right activist and LGBT equality advocate says:

“Today’s IDAHOT day! Many people like me globally, are still not free to love whom they want to love. Will you stand by, for and with us on this International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia? Especially LGBT asylum seekers and refugees for acceptance. Challenge hate crimes and embrace diversity and inclusion.”

Kaleidoscope

In commemorating the IDAHOT2016, Aderonke delivered a speech at the Kaleidoscope Trust 4th Annual Lecture to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) focusing on the global theme for IDAHOBIT 2016: Mental Health and Wellbeing. Read full speech here.

IDAHOT 2016

Speaking at the IDAHOBIT 2016 Hate Crime Vigil to commemorate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) in Sackville Gardens in Manchester’s Gay Village organised by LGBT Foundation; Aderonke thanked and paid tribute to those who’ve fought for LGBT rights, now and in future.

“We must not forget that within the LGBT umbrella, people of colour are still discriminated against. As much as Manchester is a receptive and welcoming place for refugees, racism is still rife in LGBT community.  We need to tackle discrimination from within as well and embrace inclusion. There is a lot to be done for LGBT people overseas, to whom we must extend our solidarity” Aderonke added.

 

17th May 2016

 

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

 

A Case for HIV/AIDS Pandemic and Decriminalising Homosexuality

Press Release

06/02/2016

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ACT UP! FIGHT BACK! FIGHT AIDS! UNTIL THERE IS AN HIV / AIDS CURE FOR ALL!

In a ‘SILENCE = 40’ CAMPAIGN LAUNCH held in London on 5th Feb. 2016 by our friend ACT UP London in collaboration with African Rainbow Family and other  coalition of social justice movements such as musicians, activists, lawyers and politicians from the diaspora LGBTQI / HIV community living in Britain, members of African Rainbow Family shared their stories, informed, inspired and mobilised people to join in decriminalising homosexuality in order to reduce the HIV/AIDS pandemic experienced worldwide.

Our campaign to fight the criminalisation of homosexuality in the 40 Commonwealth countries across the world which drives increased infection rates and increased stigma (with a focus on ending criminalisation in the 76 countries where it is illegal) was re-awoken by many other voices as-well as the news of the bill to criminalise gay sex in India failing more poignant than ever.

Nigerian LGBTQIA+ activist, Aderonke Apata, who is currently campaigning to repeal Nigeria’s anti-gay law said “We know not, how many people are infected or dying of HIV/AIDS, and from prejudice-incited murder and oppression. On the topic of HIV/ AIDS transmission, diagnosis and treatment, Aderonke stressed, “There are no accurate statistics, due to social, legal, and cultural barriers (stigma, discrimination, sexual status and gender inequality). Nonetheless, we have access to stats from UNAIDS: in 2013 nearly 25 million people were living with HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa – that’s 71% of the global total. 1.5 million new infections were recorded. There were 1.1 million AIDS related deaths and 39% of adults were on antiretroviral treatment. Data on men who have sex with men (MSM) is extremely limited.”

Farooq

Farooq Muhammad of African Rainbow Family said:

“Access to healthcare system for all is a fundamental human rights, hence it is important for everyone to be able to access it. He also called for homosexuality to be decriminalised as this will ease the barriers limiting LGBTIQ people coming forward in countries that criminalise homosexuality to have access to testing, detecting and treatments of HIV/AIDS”.

 

 

My Country Shut Her Doors Against Me!

On Wednesday, 30th September 2015, Aderonke Apata, a Nigerian lesbian, global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) equality advocate, feminist and human rights activist was joined by many LGBTI activists in a rally to deliver petition signatures of over 70,000 demanding the repeal of Nigeria Anti Gay Laws to the Nigeria High Commission in London. The rally was organised by African Rainbow Family and supported by Peter Tatchell Foundation and Out and Proud.

Aderonke, leader of the campaign and rally recounts her experiences at the rally attended by over 100 people including leading human rights activist, Peter Tatchell of the Peter Tatchell Foundation thus:

“My country, Nigeria shut her doors against me just because I am a lesbian! Today, I am joined by nearly 80,000 freedom lovers all over the world including those present here to deliver this petition signatures calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to repeal Nigeria’s toxic and harshest same-sex marriage and relationships laws; what did I get? Shut doors!”

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The rally had a turn out of over 100 people, and attracted many media reports both local and international news. News coverage could be found in Gay Times Magazine, Gay NewsNetwork, Diva Magazine and ERASING 76 CRIMES. Even the leaders of the Catholic church in Nigeria were quick to react to our call to repeal Nigeria antigay laws. In The Tablet News published on 1st October 2015, they said: “We do not advocate punishing gays, say Nigerian bishops” .

It wasn’t business as usual at the Nigerian Embassy when activists arrived around lunchtime on Wednesday, 30th Sept. All of their doors were shut. No movement in and out of the building was allowed the minute Aderonke requested to see a senior official of the embassy whom she could hand over the petition to en route delivery to the Nigerian President.

Everyone present at the rally in front of the Nigerian embassy was on the look-out for any of the three doors leading into the building that could be accidentally opened, just so we can request entrance. The minute we are made aware of any opened door, we would approach the guard; but get a rebuff. Eventually all movements were suspended till we left at about 3pm.

“What amazes me most was that, one of the embassy staff who was returning from his lunch break told me the reason why the embassy didn’t want to collect the two boxes containing the petition signatures was because the embassy wasn’t informed of such delivery prior to the day of the rally. However when a friend of mine that came to support me at the rally later took the boxes to the door, a guard at the embassy collected them from her and even signed a sheet of paper as proof of receipt!” continues Aderonke.

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Other Nigerian media that covered the event include: Naij.comCotonou9JA.com, nairaland.comLailasBlog, Afikpochicupdates.com, NigerianNation

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