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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

LGBT asylum briefs


Prossy Kazooza's appeal against the Home Office decision to deny her asylum has been listed for 5th September. Signatures have been gathered to support her case. You can still sign the petition though if you haven't already.

On July 25, Ugandan police arrested and tortured a key Ugandan gay activist – one of three people who had been arrested on June 3 for protesting inside the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers’ Meeting in the nation’s capital, Kampala.

A motorbike taxi in which Usaam Mukwaya was riding was stopped by police and he was placed in a patrol car, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Mukwaya was driven to a building where he was aggressively interrogated about the Ugandan GLBT movement.

He was cut around the hands and tortured with a machine that applies pressure to the body, preventing breathing and causing severe pain, IGLHRC said.

According to Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and IGLHRC, the next day around noon, police dumped Mukwaya on a street – filthy, bruised and without shoes and some of his clothing. He telephoned SMUG colleagues who came and fetched him.

African Report : LGBTI Communities Come Out of the Closet Online

From a comment by 'Mama' on Sokwanele about the situation of Zimbabwean refugees in the UK:

Unless you have tried to integrate into the UK you will not understand why this is a problem. Most of us who come here with or without the rights to work have to pay our dues to the rules and regulation which are harsh and often incomprehensible to us. (If you are a Polish person coming to UK you are given a leaflet of your rights how to integrate and how to use the system to your advantage etc as an EU citizen) most of us from Zimbabwe are left to try and work it all out on our own….Being open and honest souls we often give too much information we look at questions on forms and if we answer yes or no we feel we are lying because it doesn’t give the real truth. If we stay with friends we have no proof of where we live and the process of getting an NI to start work becomes a merry go round..If you want to rent on your own you have to be able to give UK references of professionals who are not your relatives so we end up paying six month rent in cash in advance usually our only form of saving when we have left the country with only 20 kgs of luggage..and we are well educated and have experience usually above and beyond most in the UK but still have to work below our education and experience line because we do not have the papers or references etc…A recent experience for me is I live in a relatives house I pay towards the utility bills but don’t have my name on the bills however, this is the only proof that is accepted by the CRB department and NI number interviews (the amount of catch twenty two situations created by red tape here makes it impossible to integrate) I have been a sport’s coach for over 10 and half years working in various school abroad including Zimbabwe yet at my own expense I had to get the curriculum from Zimbabwe present it to the various sporting bodies of my qualifications and pay for a decision as to see if I was qualified enough to teach… outcome was I allowed only to be an assistant and would have to do further training at my own expense… this would cost me half of my annual income if I worked in this profession and can barely live on that anyway… yet I had run my own business in sports etc etc.. another story I heard was a farmer who had run his own farm for many years but had little formal education tried to get a job as council landscaper (gardener to you and me) he didn’t have papers to prove he could drive a sit on lawn mower yet this guy has driven large farming equipment since he was 14…There is this constant need to prove you are innocent yet we all were bought up on the premise that we are all innocent before proven guilty…I carry around large files of papers to prove who I am and they all have to be originals not photocopies..It carries on and on and on..Then you have put up with the stupid questions like do you have lion in your back yard ….But having said all that I would rather be here than in Zimbabwe and whilst not a perfect place as I have said before the UK at least tries to sort out it’s problems and as an individual I can always write to my local MP and point these all out to him and he will take it up….So I am hoping they will do the right thing in this situation again and wish the refugee council every success in getting the message through otherwise we always have 10 Downing Street petition to take up the cause…
Briefing on the forthcoming Immigration & Borders Bill (PDF) by Steve Symonds of the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association.

NHS 'confusion' over asylum rules. An article for the British Medical Journal reports NHS trusts are making "appalling" decisions and denying people free care.
Adam Hundt, the lawyer who represented the Palestinian man, said he had been contacted by many doctors who were confused about what they should do.

He told the BMJ: "They are telling me they'd been led to believe they didn't have any choice about who they can treat.

"Some managers are interpreting the rules too restrictively and are saying unless someone is at death's door you shouldn't treat them unless they pay.

"This is wrong."

He said he has learnt of some "appalling decisions", such as expectant mothers being wrongly told they would not be cared for if they turned up to hospital in labour.

He added: "Three of my clients - including a child - have died after treatment was refused."
The Commissioner of Administration in Cyprus has warned that a gay Iranian man faces death in his homeland if he is deported. Eliana Nicolaou accused the government of putting the man's life at risk after he was twice rejected for asylum status.
The man, currently in prison for cannabis use, is in a four year relationship with a Cypriot man, who said in a letter to Nicolaou that he would take extreme action if his boyfriend was deported.

"Homosexuality is completely forbidden in Iran, " a source within the Iranian Embassy in Cyprus told the Cyprus Mail.
Stories of rape and torture are recounted by two young Iraqis, who say they would like to leave the country for San Francisco:
"CNN spoke with Kamal, now 18, and his 21-year-old friend, Rami, about what it's like to be gay in Iraq. Coming out as gay is not easy in any country, but to do so in Iraq could mean a death sentence or torture. The two men rarely show feelings toward each other in public. They spend a lot of time in Internet cafes in Baghdad, surfing gay chat rooms and seeking contacts with other gay men in Iraq and elsewhere. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq has deteriorated. Ridiculed under Hussein, many now find themselves the targets of violence, according to humanitarian officials. Lesbians are also victims of harassment and violence, but not nearly as often as gay men....Kamal and Rami say the dangers are all too real in Baghdad -- and they live in secrecy not to shame their families. 'I would rather commit suicide than allow my family to find out I am gay,' Rami said. Kamal said he often pretends to have girlfriends in social settings and tells his friends he's dating girls. 'I am also careful with the way I dress -- not to show them that I am gay, especially my family.' What would his family do if they found out? 'They will force me to give it up, and I cannot do that,' he said. 'The 'normal' people cannot live in Iraq. Imagine how the life is for gays.' Rami added, 'I do not know why people hate gays even though so many have this tendency. But still they hate it.'"

Gays in Iraq terrorized by threats, rape, murder [cnn] (VIDEO)

A gay couple who fled to Turkey from Iran may be separated after the United Nations accepted one man's case and denied the other.
The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is meant to protect and support refugees and assist in their return or resettlement.

Kamal and Reza hoped could start a life together without the fear of being punished for their sexuality.

Kamal has been told he will be recognised as a refugee but Reza received word earlier this week that he will not.
The United States granted, for the first time, an asylum claim to an Indonesian transsexual last month, an activist said.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organization Arus Pelangi founder King Oey, said that Michelle Saraswati, 42, formerly known as Michael Setiabudi, won her case at the San Fransisco Immigration Court in July.

Gay refugees in Canada turn to Facebook to help win asylum
Gay and lesbian refugee claimants struggling to shed old-world views of their sexuality are turning to new-age technology to make their case. Facebook, the popular online social network, is being used as a tool by some claimants to help prove their sexual orientation to immigration officials in Canada. Wearing their sexuality on their sleeve was never an option for many of these people back in their home countries, so scrounging up suitable evidence to support their claims may be difficult. They use technology to their advantage and feels Facebook can help demonstrate involvement in the gay and lesbian community.
In an extremely rare move, a Jamaican lesbian living in Sunrise, Florida has avoided deportation - for now - after an immigration judge allowed the 29-year-old to stay in the United States because her sexual orientation could cause her to be tortured in her home country.
"The general atmosphere in Jamaica is a feeling of no tolerance towards homosexuals in general, and as such ... the respondent's life is definitely at risk," Immigration Judge Irma Lopez-Defillo said, according to court documents.
Lopez-Defillo initially ordered that the woman be deported because of a pair of drug convictions. In the same ruling, the judge deferred the order based on the climate of intolerance in Jamaica. Nichole checked in with immigration authorities on Thursday regarding her order of supervision. She is due to report back in three months.

The woman was released from a detention center in Puerto Rico in June and is staying with her parents in Sunrise. Nichole asked that her first and last names not be used in order to spare her parents from embarrassment. Nichole is her middle name.

Riazat Butt writes for The Guardian about An unheavenly silence on homophobia amongst clerics at the Global Anglican Futures Conference.
Homosexuality is illegal in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment or death.

Archbishops from these countries were on the panel. They said they could not influence government policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) legislation, nor could they condone homosexual behaviour because their churches would be shut down. They added one could not break the taboos of African society without suffering the consequences.

Presumably, these cultural constraints justify the punishment meted out to Prossy Kakooza, Baxter's example of someone tortured because of her sexual orientation. She was arrested, marched naked for two miles to a police station, raped and beaten.

Akinola did not condemn these acts. Neither did the other African archbishops. Orombi said he had never heard of people being tortured because of their homosexuality, that when he learned about incidents – from the western media – he was at a loss to understand why he had not heard of them. He refused to accept that persecuting and torturing gay people was done openly in Uganda.

It was clear they failed to grasp how homophobic rhetoric from the pulpit led to violence and intimidation

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