Africa

Rwanda’s government ‘using LGBTQ+ activists for propaganda’ as part of secret, sinister plot

Patrick Kelleher July 18, 2022
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A protester holds a placard describing the Rwanda deportations as dangerous for LGBTQ people during a demonstration.

The UK government is attempting to deport refugees to Rwanda. (Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty)

Rwanda’s government is asking LGBTQ+ people to say they’re “OK and safe” so they can dispel criticism of the UK’s controversial asylum plan.

The UK government has faced resounding criticism over its asylum deal, which will see refugees who arrive via the English Channel deported to Rwanda and processed there instead.

Human rights groups have repeatedly warned that the plan could put some asylum seekers – especially LGBTQ+ refugees – in danger, as Rwanda has a poor track record on LGBTQ+ rights.

It now appears the Rwandan government is asking local LGBTQ+ activists to help spread “propaganda” to assuage the concerns of refugees who are nervous about being deported.

A Rwandan LGBTQ+ activist, who asked not to be named, told The Mirror that he was asked to “write a statement talking about the LGBT+ community’s situation” in his country.

“The Rwandan government wants to force the Rwandan LGBT+ movement to step up and say that we are OK and safe – they are aware that LGBT+ immigrants are refusing to come,” the activist said.

A picture of the grounded first flight taking asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda, which was terminated following an intervention from the European Court of Human Rights.
The first flight taking asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda was grounded at the last minute after intervention of the European Court of Human Rights. (Dan Kitwood/Getty)

The activist said he was told the message would be published and sent to refugees in the UK.

He said he was asked to “testify the statement publicly”, but he refused.

“I am sure they’ll trick people and use straight people to lie,” the activist added. “They are doing this in a secretive way.”

Rwanda is ‘not safe’ for LGBTQ+ refugees

The news was condemned by LGBTQ+ rights activist Peter Tatchell, who described the situation as “outrageous”.

“The country is not safe for LGBT+ people. There is widespread homophobic prejudice, discrimination and threats of violence. Rwanda clearly fears that the asylum deal with the UK may fall through.”

There has been pressure on the UK government for months over its Rwanda deal. Under the plan, refugees who are deemed “illegal” by the Home Office will be flown to Rwanda to be processed there instead.

The reason to remove this policy is because it could mean that many more LGBTQI people could die.

Asylum advocacy groups have repeatedly warned that the policy could result in the deaths of LGBTQ+ refugees, many of whom are forced to flee their home countries because of homophobic and transphobic policies and attitudes.

A woman holds a placard saying 'Fleeing danger should not be illegal' as people protest against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda outside the Home Office on June 13, 2022.
A woman holds a placard saying ‘Fleeing danger should not be illegal’ as people protest against the UK deportation flights to Rwanda outside the Home Office on June 13, 2022. (Leon Neal/Getty)

While homosexuality is no longer illegal in Rwanda, it’s still considered a “hostile environment” for LGBTQ+ people, according to Sebastian Rocca, CEO of Micro Rainbow.

“The reason to remove this policy is because it could mean that many more LGBTQI people could die,” Rocca told PinkNews.

Daniel Sohege, director of Stand For All, expressed concern that LGBTQ+ activists in Rwanda could be detained and “disappear” if they refuse to help the government whitewash anti-LGBTQ+ abuses.

“LGBTQ+ individuals have been previously rounded up by the government according to reliable sources, and public indecency laws have been used to discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community,” Sohege told PinkNews.

“That the UK government would ostensibly tacitly endorse such actions by playing along with the line that Rwanda is a safe country to deport LGBTQ+ refugees to raises serious concerns about their wider disregard for LGBTQ+ protections, as well as the safety of those they force to Rwanda.”

In June, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued a last-minute court order preventing the UK government from deporting its first flight full of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The UK Home Office has repeatedly clashed with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC) over the policy. The Home Office has been accused of misleading refugees about the UN’s involvement in its Rwanda plan.

While the UNHCR has been clear that it’s opposed to the policy, the Home Office is reportedly still claiming it’s supportive of its plans, according to The Guardian.

The Home Office has repeatedly denied that Rwanda is an unsafe place for refugees, describing it as a “fundamentally safe and secure country”.

More: asylum seekers, Conservative Party, Home Office, Micro Rainbow, Rwanda

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