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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Lesbian Ugandan 'BN' wins judicial review of asylum case

Human rights activist Peter TatchellPeter Tatchell image via Wikipedia
Source: Morning Star

By Will Stone

A lesbian asylum seeker facing deportation has been granted permission to launch a new High Court bid to block her removal after fresh evidence was unearthed.

An immigration judge originally backed the Home Secretary's decision to remove the 29-year-old Ugandan woman, referred to as "BN," on the grounds that she was not believed to be gay.

But in January the woman was granted an 11th hour injunction that prevented her from being sent back to Uganda after her asylum application was refused.

She faces real risk of persecution in Uganda where there is hostility towards homosexuals from authorities and the public.

Now a High Court judge has ruled that BN was entitled to challenge the Home Secretary's refusal to allow her to make a fresh asylum claim.

The decision was made on the basis of new evidence illustrating the risk she faced, which was provided by Abdurahaman Jafar, appearing for BN.

Mr Jafar said Ugandan MP David Bahati had been seeking to bring in a new law imposing the death penalty for homosexuals.

He added that the Bill had not been passed due to international pressure but had led to increased tension for homosexuals.

In January gay rights campaigner David Kato was beaten to death near the Ugandan capital Kampala after he sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual.

The incident resulted in a massive publicity campaign by equality rights activists to stop BN's removal, involving thousands of different web pages in both Britain and Uganda.

Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting in London, said:
"In my judgement it is arguable that the claimant is at risk of persecution because she is 'suspected' of being a lesbian."
The case will now go to a full hearing to decide whether she is entitled to make a fresh claim.

Backing the judge's ruling human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
"Any gay or lesbian person fleeing Uganda has a well-founded fear of persecution.

"Already homosexuality carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Homophobic police harassment and mob violence are routine.

"If this woman is returned to Uganda and it is known or perceived that she is a lesbian she will be at serious risk of victimisation."
Sarabjit Singh, appearing for the Home Secretary, argued there was a lack of evidence that BN would face persecution.
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