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LGBT asylum seeker unlawfully deported by UK ‘gang-raped’ in Uganda

Reiss Smith July 29, 2019
A UK Border Force official

A member of UK Border Force patrols at Heathrow Airport. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty)

A queer woman who sought asylum in the UK and was deported to Uganda—where gay sex is illegal—has told how she was persecuted and gang-raped because of her sexuality.

The woman, known only as PN, is set to return to the UK on Monday August 5 after the High Court ruled that the decision to reject her asylum claim was unlawful.

The 26-year-old arrived in the UK in 2011 and made a claim for asylum on the basis of her sexuality. Her application was refused in 2013 and she was promptly deported under the Home Office’s detained fast-track system, which was closed in 2015 after the High Court ruled it was “structurally unfair.”

After an appeal, a judge ruled that PN must be returned to the UK as the two weeks she was given under the fast-track system to fight her case was not sufficient. The government is appealing the decision.

LGBT+ asylum seeker had child as result of rape

In the six years that she has spent in Uganda, PN has given birth to a child which she said is the result of a violent gang rape.

“I was sleeping one night, the people came, they banged on the door, they stole everything and they raped me. I was on my own in the room,” she told The Independent.

“I couldn’t tell the police as I don’t want them to know who I am.”

She died because of my sexuality.

After fleeing her home and moving to a new location, PN asked a doctor to terminate her pregnancy, but was told that she might lose her life during the procedure.

Grandmother murdered because of granddaughter’s sexuality

PN said she was aged 17 when she first fled to the UK after her grandmother was murdered on account of her sexuality.

“I was staying with my grandma and people knew my sexuality, so they were hurting me and the girl I was with. Then they took my grandma’s life because they knew me,” she said.

“She died because of my sexuality. They were looking for me and I ran away and they found my grandma there in our home, by the time I came back my grandma was lying down, dead.”

A scandal on a par with Windrush.

Since returning to Uganda, PN said that she has been left terrified that the same people will find her.

During her time in Uganda she has been supported financially by the UK-based group Movement for Justice and emotionally by the charity Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Karen Doyle, national organiser of Movement for Justice, told The Independent that the fast-track system that saw PN deported is a “scandal on a par with Windrush.”

“Thousands of asylum seekers who were subject to an unfair process and who right now could be living in fear, imprisoned or murdered,” Doyle said.

“The Home Office have a responsibility to put right this injustice, they should publicly put out appeals in countries people were returned to, for those removed under fast track to seek legal advice.”

A government spokesperson said: “It would be inappropriate to comment whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.”

Government urged to reform LGBT+ asylum

In May, then-Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said that the government would investigate the way that LGBT+ asylum claims are assessed by the Home Office.

The review was commissioned “in order to alleviate any concerns about the way in which vulnerable claims are dealt with,” Nokes said at the time, however she has since been sacked by the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A replacement is yet to be announced.

Since the government reshuffle, LGBT+ charities have called upon the new Home Secretary Priti Patel to introduce basic protections for LGBT+ asylum seekers.

The UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group urged Patel “to ensure the Home Office is not overly demanding of people to prove that they are at risk of persecution because they are LGBT+.”

“There needs to be an end to stereotyping of ‘coming out journeys’ and an end to holding LGBT+ people in immigration detention centres,” a spokesperson told PinkNews.

More: asylum, lgbt asylum, Uganda

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