A 22-year-old Ugandan woman who was subjected to being branded with a hot iron in her home country as a punishment for being a lesbian, may be deported from the UK.
Betty Tibikawa, who is currently detained in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedford, is expected to be removed from the UK after losing her asylum claim.
This comes after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced last week that the coalition’s year-old promise that it would no longer continue the practice of deporting people to countries where they were likely to face persecution – and worse – over their sexual orientation had been met.
According to Tuesday’s Guardian, Ms Tibikawa was about to start university in Kampala when she was set upon by three men who taunted her about her sexuality. They branded her with a hot iron and left her unconscious. Ms Tibikawa was then bedridden for two months. An independent medical report confirmed her scars were consistent with being branded.
Ms Tibikawa told the Guardian: “I can’t sleep and I’m having terrible nightmares about what will happen to me if I’m sent back to Uganda. My family have disowned me because I’m a lesbian and I’m convinced I’d be killed if I’m sent home.
“I was ‘outed’ in a Ugandan magazine called Red Pepper in February of this year saying that I’m wanted for being a lesbian. This has put my life at increased risk.”
Human rights organisations worldwide have repeatedly documented abuse against gay men and lesbians in Uganda, reportedly one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT people.
Another Ugandan lesbian, known only as “BN”, was to be removed from the UK in January but her deportation was prevented after her lawyers successfully intervened. Her case will come before the court of appeal next month.
Also, a 34-year-old Ugandan gay man was to be deported on 17 May, though it is not yet known if this went ahead.
David Kato, a gay activist in Uganda, was murdered there earlier this year.
Homosexuality is illegal in the country and an anti-gay bill calling for more stringent measures against LGBT people was to be voted on by the Ugandan parliament last week. Ultimately, it was not included on the agenda, though it is likely it will come before parliament again later in the year.
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