The Justice for Gay Africans [JfGA] Society welcomes the commitment made today by the Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Theresa May that the UK government will stop deportation of LGBT people seeking asylum in the UK from homophobic countries and also proactively question the 42 Commonwealth countries which retain homophobic laws.
The UK government’s handling of LGBT asylum seekers fleeing homophobic countries where their lives are in danger has been nothing but appalling and disappointing. LGBT people affected face detention, accusations, homelessness and institutional homophobia in the UK instead of the safety they hoped to find. The government should show commitment by indicating how it would achieve this promise and what countries are in this category.
“While JfGA applauds this step as one in the right direction, it hopes that the government will not only make the promise but act on it. Many gay men and women are still being detained by the UK Borders Agency (UKBA) and being treated like mere criminals before being loaded onto a flight into the very danger they dread”, says Godwyns Onwuchekwa of JfGA.
Homophobia is rife in many developing countries who have made no secret of their ambition to wipe out gay people using various punishments ranging from harassment, torture, imprisonment to execution as recently seen in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill still going through debate in Uganda. State-funded harassment using police forces, general homophobia from citizens encouraged by politicians and denial to basic life amenities like healthcare, jobs, housing and personal security are still publicly carried out and celebrated as seen in Malawi less than a month ago in the case of two gay men sentenced to 14 years in prison with hard labour although later pardoned.
The Justice for Gay Africans would look forward to working with the government and agencies to indexing homophobic countries and lobbying them to improve. We hope that the government will not only work to end deportations but also actively engage affected countries to encourage them to repeal homophobic laws, end harassment of gay people and other sexual minorities, also ensure justice, fairness to and protection for these people.