The Lesbian Immigration Support Group is a Manchester, UK based group of lesbian and bisexual refugees and asylum seeking women and their supporters.

We offer practical and social support.

More about us ..

27/06/2014

Thursday 3 July - LISG Members at the Freedom Without Fear Platform, University of London.




Thursday 3 July - LISG Members Aderonke and Jacqueline are taking part in the Freedom Without Fear Platform at Birkbeck, University of London.   

The platform will bring diverse groups together to explore the experience of BME women struggling for justice and how BME women and women’s organisations can best get their voices heard.

LISG members will speak about the struggles women are facing with asylum and immigration systems, including detention centres run by private sector corporations and the surveillance and control non-British national women are increasingly subjected to. 

For more information check out the event Facebook page:

LISG members inform Inspection of the Home Office’s Handling of Asylum Claims based on Sexual Orientation




Earlier this month LISG members met with the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to offer insight and feedback on their experiences of seeking sanctuary in the UK. 

The Inspection of the Home Office’s Handling of Asylum Claims based on Sexual Orientation is a direct commission from the Home Secretary. Our feedback will be incorporated into a report which will inform the way in which the Home Office handles asylum claims based on sexual orientation in the future.

Our members raised concerns regarding the way in which the Home Office conducts asylum interviews; the lack of information give about the process and the implications of each stage of an asylum claim; the culture of disbelief around seeking asylum based on sexuality – proportionately higher asylum rejection rates; how one tiny inconsistency given in an interview e.g. about a specific date will be jumped upon as evidence that the whole asylum claim is bogus; the use of detention centres where victims of gender violence are managed by male private sector guards; how women are left in detention centres for months and years.

We look forward to reading the report and hope that it will have a positive impact on Home Office practices and policies.


ORAM's LGBTI Refugee Project Portal


This looks really interesting, we’ve also added details to our Links page:
 
 
ORAM - the Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration has launched an online portal to help official bodies and NGOs share approaches to protecting LGBTI refugees, and to adopt best practices in the face of rising persecution of LGBTI people globally.

The LGBTI Refugee Project Portal showcases projects and approaches that enhance the protection of LGBTI forced migrants in the areas of refugee status determination, policy development and research, practical protection measures and staff development.
Users can submit details of projects that will lead to better treatment of LGBTI refugees across the globe.
 
 

 

26/05/2014

Jamaica's Underground Gays

Last Friday Channel 4’s Unreported World documentary explored the growth of homophobic attacks in Jamaica. 'Jamaica's Underground Gays' focuses on a group of gay men and transwomen who live on the margins of society. Fleeing homophobia in their home communities they’ve banded together to gain strength in numbers. After being evicted from a series of squats, they now live a precarious existence in a storm drain.

The documentary is available to watch on 4OD until around 20 June. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/4od#3705272

The status of lesbians in Jamaica

There are no laws specifically targeting gay women in Jamaica; however lesbians and those women perceived to be gay face discrimination, stigma, harassment and abuse from the wider society.

Members of our support group, who fled Jamaica after suffering abuse at the hands of their local community, have spoken of how devastated they feel that their own country doesn’t want them just because of who they love.


J-Flag

J-Flag is a Jamaican social justice organisation which aims to challenge homophobia and perceptions about LGBT people. Check out its excellent ‘We Are Jamaicans’ video series http://jflag.org/programmes/we-are-jamaicans/

06/04/2014

8 April - Raise the Bar at Labels Soho

Hello Londoners

Tuesday 8 April pop down to Raise the Bar at Labels in Soho for an evening of music, & spoken word. 

Organisers Kisha DM, Claire Bennett & Trae Dud Smith aim to raise your spirits, and raise awareness of LISG. Entrance is free, donations are appreciated.

Claire Bennett's excellent research has highlighted issues faced by lesbian asylum seekers in the UK. Check out this article on her findings in The Independent. 






 

LGBT asylum - Channel 4 news coverage & Manchester City Council motion




March 2014 - campaigning outside Manchester
Town Hall to end detention of female
asylum seekers. 
Channel 4 news has been investigating what life is like for diverse LGBT communities in the UK, including the culture of disbelief faced by LGBT asylum seekers.

Check out clips from its LGBT season here, including an interview with LISG member & Movement for Justice activist Aderonke Apata. In the accompanying article LISG volunteer & human rights campaigner Prossy Kakooza highlights her experiences of the asylum system.

It's great that these issues are being highlighted in a public forum, and well done to Aderonke and Prossy for sharing their stories to help make a difference.


***

We're really happy that Manchester City Council has formally stated its commitment to tackling asylum seeker destitution & to supporting fair treatment for LGBT asylum seekers.  

Here's the wording of the 26 March motion in full:

"26 March 2014 - Asylum Seekers

Manchester has a long history as a welcoming and tolerant city to those fleeing persecution and the strong record of the Council in protecting and speaking out for the most vulnerable. Manchester and Greater Manchester have a large population of asylum seekers and refugees.

Worldwide, approximately 80 countries criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people resulting in persecution, imprisonment, and even death. The deteriorating situation for LGBT people in Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi has been heavily documented. Some of these LGBT people who have been tortured or imprisoned, flee to the UK for safety.

Reports from the Home Affairs Select Committee, Stonewall, The Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and leaked Home Office documents detail the culture of disbelief and inhumane treatment facing LGBT asylum seekers in the process.

Asylum seekers face a lengthy application process, poverty and homelessness. The Red Cross (2014) found that over 50% of Greater Manchester’s Asylum Seekers had been living in destitution (no access to public funds or housing) for over two years. Asylum seekers want to work to support themselves, but are not allowed to do so by the Home Office.

Often the financial burden falls on local authorities to support those with no recourse to public funds with little central government support.

This Council resolves to:

• Re-state our commitment in support of the fair treatment of LGBT people fleeing persecution and ensure that these values are shared by partners and funded groups working with asylum seekers.

• Write to the Home Secretary voicing concerns that the current application of the asylum process allows too many people to fall destitute and that responsibility needs to be more equally shared between local and national government.

• Sign up to the relevant sections of the Still Human, Still Here Campaign which includes faith groups, charities and a number of other Labour Councils such as Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford, Glasgow and Sheffield.

• Encourage all Manchester MPs to adopt this position and raise these issues nationally.

(Signed by Councillors Craig (proposer), Richards (seconder), Ollerhead, Karney,and Chappell)"
***

Check out the Still Human Still Here campaign blog here.

The council motion specifically mentions Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria.

This year Uganda passed harsh new anti-gay laws - life imprisonment for lesbians and gays and imprisonment for straight people if they do not report suspected gays to the police. Check out Channel 4 news coverage on including an interview with human rights campaigner and LISG volunteer Prossy Kakooza.

LGBT laws in Malawi are currently under scrutiny, with the UN assisting the Malawi Law Society's high court challenge to laws criminalising lesbians and gays.  In 2013, Mercy Kumwenda came out publicly as lesbian to raise awareness of issues faced by gay women; “People think that you are a witch, abnormal, satanic or you just want to make money but for me its inborn.... Leave lesbians alone. They are human being no matter what people say." Since she came out, Mercy has received death and rape threats, and has been disowned by her family, she now lives in hiding.

New anti-LGBT legislation in Nigeria includes a provision to punish with a jail term of up to 10 years anyone who operates or participates in gay clubs and organisations. Anyone who makes a public show of a same-sex relationship will also break the law and could face jail.

Over 75 countries criminalise same sex relationships. At LISG we have asylum seeker and refugee members from a number of countries including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Afghanistan and Kenya. Check out this Channel 4 infographic on gay rights around the world, from marriage to the death penalty.

It is not just anti-gay legislation that our members flee from - they face persecution from community and family members as well as state officials. They come from countries where there are no laws to protect women from forced marriage and marital rape; and there are incredible barriers to women living and supporting themselves independently.

 
 
 

28/03/2014

Join us Sunday 30 March BFI Flare LGBT Film Festival

 
 
Londoners - what you up to Sunday afternoon? We'd love it if you could pop down and support us at BFI Southbank..

This week it's BFI FLARE, London LGBT film Festival, there's an ace programme of diverse films and events.
 
On Sunday there's a screening of The Abominable Crime + Veil of Silence, two powerful documentaries about gay lives under threat in Jamaica and Nigeria.

LISG members Aderonke & Sylvie will attend the screening and then take part in a round table discussion on state of LGBT rights around the world. Do join them if you can, March 30, 4:20 PM, BFI Reuben Library, BFI Southbank. For more info check out the BFI website here

Many thanks to the BFI Flare crew for raising donations for LISG - the gravestones in the Haunted House set are being sold, and they've raised £90 so far from selling 4 of them.
 
REALLY APPRECIATED THANK YOU :-)