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Tuesday, 6 June 2006

UK Judge: Lesbians Are Not Homosexuals

Source: UK Gay News

A judge at Manchester Immigration and Asylum Tribunal has ruled that a lesbian Ugandan is not homosexual and must be deported back to Uganda.

“Elizabeth” is today being held under suicide watch at Yarls Wood detention centre, awaiting Home Office directions for her deportation to Uganda on Sunday (June 11).

Back in Uganda, she will be at serious risk of persecution on the grounds of her lesbianism.  Uganda is one of the most homophobic countries in Africa – and the world.

Elizabeth was set to be deported on the June 2.  However after excessive force being used on the plane by immigration officers – including the use of two sets of handcuffs – her removal was stopped.

Previously, an adjudicator at Manchester Immigration and Asylum Tribunal dismissed Elizabeth’s asylum appeal, stating that evidence submitted describing the persecution faced by ‘homosexuals’ in Uganda only refers to gay men.

Women, according to the judgement, cannot be understood to be ‘homosexual’ He also judged that the fact that Elizabeth has a child raises suspicion on her lesbian identity.

Elizabeth’s solicitor and campaign group are desperate to persuade the Home Office to allow her to stay in the UK to make a fresh asylum claim. She is receiving the support of her MP, David Heves MP for Aston-Under-Lyne, and Angela Eagle MP.

Campaigners from the Elizabeth Must Stay campaign say: “Elizabeth has been a victim of prejudice because of her sexuality both in Uganda and now in the UK.

“Since she arrived in Manchester, Elizabeth has made many close friendships in the gay and lesbian community.  We are all rallying round and are desperate to keep Elizabeth safe in the UK.”

Elizabeth says, “I am desperate.  I fled to the UK hoping for protection.  Now I am in a prison fearful that any moment I will be sent back to Uganda.

“I am terrified of what will happen to me,” admitted. 

Elizabeth will be taken right back into the situation she escaped from two years ago and, campaigners say, is unlikely to survive.

She lived her life as a lesbian secretly for many years in Uganda, fearing state sponsored persecution of homosexuals.

One night, after being out with friends at an underground gay club she was visited at her home by several men she now believes to have been associated with the Ugandan authorities.

She was bundled into a car and taken to a so-called 'Safe House' — unofficial Ugandan prisons where torture is regularly practiced.

Elizabeth was held for five months, during which time she was repeatedly raped, whipped and beaten.  She eventually managed to escape, and fled to the UK where she claimed asylum.

She fears that her long term partner has also been abducted. 

The abuse Elizabeth suffered in Uganda, and the heartbreak of her partner’s disappearance, have left Elizabeth with chronic continuing physical and mental health problems.  Having received counselling over the last two years for severe depression, Rape Trauma Syndrome and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Elizabeth is now in detention and cut off from her counsellor and friends.

■  The Elizabeth Must Stay campaign is urgently fighting against her deportation. Visit http://www.elizabethmuststay.co.uk/ to sign the petition and to find a template letter to Liam Byrne, the government minister at the Home Office responsible for immigration.

■  UK Gay News is deliberately not giving Elizabeth’s surname as the Ugandan authorities could well inflict suffering on her family and daughter.

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