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Thursday, 11 August 2011

In Scotland, a new play based on gay asylum seeker testimony

By Clare Harris

Around the world the topic of homosexuality remains controversial and divisive. For many, the unrelenting persecution leads them to seek refuge far from home. But too often their struggle has only just begun…

In a first for a Scottish production company, cross-artform group conFAB brings together testimonies of gay male asylum seekers and refugees to create a story of unimaginable adversity and perseverance.

Developed in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, these opinionated, angry, deeply moving and ultimately inspiring tales bring to light the lives of those caught out by the cruelties of global and sexual politics.

Told with theatrical energy and imagination, ‘Hearts Unspoken’ is a piece of theatre that looks beyond the bureaucracies of the asylum processes and focuses on the human, personal relationships and interactions.

‘Hearts Unspoken’ was created in partnership with Scottish Refugee Council, the leading independent charity providing advice and information for refugees and people seeking asylum in Scotland. The organisation will help stage an after-show discussion on the issues raised in the play on Thursday 8 September.

Hearts Unspoken director Sam Rowe explains:
"These are not only tales of exclusion and persecution, but also incredibly moving accounts of over-coming personal situations for the right to self-expression, to live without fear and, of course, to love."

"In staging this production my motivation isn’t only to raise awareness of LGBT asylum rights. I hope ‘Hearts Unspoken’ will take people beyond the issues, and confront them with the very human heart of these dramatic stories. Stories, I believe, everyone can relate to."
Belinda McElhinney, Arts and Cultural Development Officer for Scottish Refugee Council, who will be chairing the after-show discussion on Thursday 8 September, said:
"Hearts Unspoken’ deserves to be seen. The process of seeking protection is complex and difficult for everyone, and research shows that in the past gay and lesbian people have been subject to homophobia from the agencies who are set up to protect them."

"Since 2010, the Home Office has pledged to improve the way they treat lesbian and gay people in the asylum system, but recent news has shown that they still have no way to track how many cases made on the basis of sexuality are granted or refused. There’s still a lot of work to do to make the system better, and this play gives us a glimpse of what lesbian and gay asylum seekers are up against, both during their claim and as they adjust to life in the UK."
  • Changing House, Tron Theatre, 63 Trongate, Glasgow
  • Performances: 8pm, Wednesday 7 September - Saturday 10 September
  • After show discussion Thursday 8 September

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