Hope for Ugandan lesbian’s asylum appeal

Stephanie Phillips July 4, 2008
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A Ugandan lesbian has moved one step closer to her goal for asylum in the UK after a senior immigration judge dismissed the previous tribunal as a ‘mess.’

Prossy Kakooza, 26, fled Uganda after her family found her in bed with her partner, who she had met at university, and marched both women naked to the police station where Prossy was raped and tortured by police officers.

She escaped to the UK after her family bribed the guards to release her so they could have her killed. They believed this would ‘take away the curse from the family.’

The news of Prossy’s fight for asylum comes as Peter Tatchell spoke out against the government yesterday at the TUC LGBT conference.

He called on them to make ‘urgent’ reforms to the asylum system and stop gay refugees being sent back to ‘viciously homophobic countries such as Iran, Uganda, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Jamaica, Belarus and Saudi Arabia.’

Mr Tatchell urged the government to implement five policy changes to ensure fair hearings for LGBT asylum seekers.

These changes included asylum staff receiving training in sexual orientation and transgender awareness, the government telling asylum staff that homophobic and transphobic persecution are grounds for granting asylum and the official Home Office country information reports being upgraded to include the true scale of homophobic persecution.

Mr Tatchell said: “These are systemic failings by a callous and indifferent government that is more interested in cutting asylum numbers than in ensuring a fair, just and compassionate asylum system.”

The Home Office’s first decision to deny Prossy asylum did not take into account the fact that she had been mistreated by the state and would probably face the same treatment again if she returned.

The Home Office believed that she was raped and tortured, because of the medical evidence, but dismissed her attack as the ‘random acts of individuals’ and suggested that she could move to another town in Uganda.

In Uganda you cannot move to another town without a reference from your previous village and since she is a lesbian she would be persecuted wherever she went.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and the penalty is life in prison.

The new ruling will allow Prossy to present her case again to the asylum tribunal which is likely to take place in the autumn.

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