Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Sierra Leone: lesbian immigrant Florence saved

Herb Sierra LeoneImage via Wikipedia
Source: The Lesbian and Gay Foundation

The tireless fighting efforts of staff and volunteers from Manchester's Lesbian Community Project have successfully paid off after the government’s decision to extradite lesbian immigrant Florence and her son Michael from this country was overturned.

The decision which has just been announced is the result of months of fundraising, hours of petition signing, letter writing and lobbying by the groups team, as well as the continued input from hundreds of supporters.

Florence came to the UK in 2006 seeking asylum for herself and her young son, after fleeing from her home in Sierra Leone because she was suffering physical abuse from her family including beatings by her parents and rape by her cousin, who she had also been forced to marry. The Lesbian Community Project have been working with her since August 2006.

Karen McCarthy from the Lesbian Community Project told Pink Paper: “When Florence turned to the police for help they turned her away, saying it was a family matter. She tried to find a safe place to stay but could not and was forced to return home to face more abuse and violence including being threatened with female genital mutilation to 'cure' her.”

Lisa Buklovskis, also from the Lesbian Community Project commented: “Florence came to us with her story and as a member of our community, we wanted to support her in whatever way we could.

”When the news came that Florence and Michael had been granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, we were absolutely elated!

“All the hard work and tireless campaigning had finally paid off. It means that Florence and Michael can now look forward to a future free from fear of persecution. In a country like Sierra Leone, where it is illegal to be gay, the persecution that Florence would have faced had she have been deported, is difficult for us to contemplate here in the UK where our relative freedoms as lesbians and gay men are a world apart.”

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