09/12/2014

Prossy Kakooza delivers speech at Human Dignity Trust event


Check out this great pic of LISG volunteer Prossy Kakooza alongside deputy PM Nick Clegg; Ugandan LGBT advocate Dr. Frank Mugisha; and Alice Nkom - a Human Rights Lawyer from Cameroon who fights tirelessly for LGBT rights.

The four were speaking at an event organised by the Human Dignity Trust, a British organisation which aims to help local groups and individuals challenge the legality of laws which criminalise consensual same sex relationships wherever those laws exist in the world.

In early 2007 Prossy sought asylum in the UK after being imprisoned and tortured in Uganda because of her sexuality. She then faced a battle against the culture of disbelief facing LGBT asylum seekers. Her claim was initially dismissed and after a lengthy appeal process ordeal she was finally granted refugee status in late 2008.

For more info on the work of the Human Dignity Trust, check out its website:  http://www.humandignitytrust.org/pages/ABOUT%20US

07/12/2014

Thank yous & LISG festive lunch

Well 2014 is drawing to a close. We've had a busy year with members experiencing set-backs and successes, highs and lows. We've spoken at conferences, taken part in some great arts activities & two gay prides, met with the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to help shape new Home Office guidance.

Thank you to everyone who has signed a petition, tweeted an airline, given a donation, attended one of our events, hosted an arts workshop, or cheered us on at Pride. We really appreciate it.

*Thank you to Raise the Bar*

A special thank you to Claire Bennett, Kisha Morris and Labels Bar Soho for their continued support through their Raise the Bar events. The evenings showcase the talents of LGBT artists and raise awareness of issues faced by LGBT asylum seekers. They also raise donations towards the work of Lesbian Immigration Support Group. A LISG member or volunteer attends each event, and is always overwhelmed by the welcome and the fantastic atmosphere.

*LISG festive lunch*

We had a great time at our end of year festive lunch yesterday! We prepared & shared food and then Karen taught us some belly dancing moves.




16/11/2014

Aderonke Apata in The Independent's prestigious Rainbow List

Congratulations to LISG member Aderonke Apata!
 
 
 
Check out the new entry at number 41 in The Independent newspaper's prestigious Rainbow List :

"Aderonke Apata

 LGBT asylum campaigner Apata fled persecution for homosexuality in her native Nigeria, and campaigns for LGBT asy
lum seekers to stay in the UK. Her petition, demanding that she be allowed to stay, gained 32,000 signatures, and her valiant efforts were recognised when she gained the National Diversity Award."

 
Well done Aderonke, and thank you for all you do to raise awareness of issues faced by LGBT asylum seekers.
 
 

09/11/2014

LISG members at 'Seeking Asylum in the UK: LGBT Experiences' conference

 

On 6 November some LISG members attended the 'Seeking Asylum in the UK: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) Perspectives' conference in Liverpool

It was great to meet people from UKLGIG and other campaigning and research organisations
& to share information on key issues in campaigning, advocacy and activism in LGBT asylum.

Aderonke gave a really inspiring talk & it was lovely to see long time LISG supporter researcher Claire Bennett
 
 
 
For more info on the conference and ongoing research project check out the Economic and Social Research Council website.

03/08/2014

Tuesday 5 August - Raise the Bar Soho

In London Tuesday 5 August?

The lovely Kisha Morris is hosting Raise the Bar, an arts and open mic evening at Labels Bar, Frith Street, Soho.
 
The aim of the evening is to raise your spirits, and raise awareness and raise funds for LISG! 

 
Our Prossy Kakooza joined Kisha and Claire Bennett at the last Raise the Bar event and had such an amazing time. There were so many talented people performing, plus lots of info shared about issues faced by LGBT asylum seekers. The info is based on Claire Bennett's research on experiences of lesbian women seeking asylum in the UK.
 

 
 
Thank you so much Kisha and Claire for your support, and have a fantastic night on Tuesday!!


Uganda anti-gay law declared 'null and void' however LGBT people still in danger


LISG volunteer Prossy Kakooza fled Uganda in 2007 due to horrific persecution because of her sexuality. She's made the following comments about the status of lesbian and gay people in Uganda.

"Just to clarify for people, although the anti-Homosexuality Bill has been struck down in Uganda on
a technicality, it's still not a safe place for LGBT people.
 
People's minds about the issue haven't miraculously changed & the draconian colonial era laws Uganda inherited as part of the Commonwealth which allow LGBT people to be imprisoned for "un-natural acts" sadly still exist.
 
So not taking away from this MASSIVE victory, but asking all the supporters to please not relax in their support of LGBT Ugandans & their fight to be free."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/01/uganda-anti-gay-law-null-and-void

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 :-)

18/03/2014

Anderonke Apata - Returning to Nigeria is not an option for me - video & petition

Aderonke Apata
"Returning to Nigeria is not an option for me."




Please support LISG member Aderonke's fight to remain in the UK.

Check out Aderonke's video explaining why she's seeking sanctuary. There's also a link to her petition to the Home Office - we'd be really grateful if you could add your signature.

Aderonke is Manchester co-ordinator for Movement for Justice, fighting to raise concerns about the treatment of asylum seekers in the UK, notably in Yarl's Wood detention centre.
 
She's been nominated for a LGBT Positive Role Model National Diversity Award, and you can cast your vote for her here. 

Check out this Black Feminists Manchester blog interview with Aderonke as she discusses her asylum case and work with Movement for Justice.

Many thanks

 
 

14/02/2014

Tuesday 4 March - join us for spoken word, poetry & comedy



Join us for an evening of spoken word, poetry & comedy 


Tuesday 4 March 7pm - 9.30pm

Three Minute Theatre
Afflecks Arcade
35-39 Oldham Street

Manchester M1 1JG

Tickets £5 / £4 conc. All proceeds go to LISG and Freedom from Torture.

 
Fresh from performing at QueerContact, our host for the evening is the unstoppable Heena Patel.
 
Women across the world are routinely subject to violence and the threat of violence simply because of their sex and sexuality. From imprisonment and the threat of death for the act of loving another woman, to forced prostitution in refugee camps, women bear the brunt of many of the world’s prejudices and conflicts.

This night is about challenging that. This night is about the voices, the talents and the passion of women who refuse the silence.

Featuring: Cheryl Martin, Hafsah Bashir, Joy France, Kat Day, Keisha Thompson. Shamshad Khan, and contributions from the clients and members of Freedom from Torture and LISG

Many thanks to Commonword for organising this event, and to all the artists performing.

*****


If we speak we are afraid that our words will be used against us.
And if we do not speak we are still afraid.
So, it is better to speak knowing we were never meant to survive.

Audre Lorde, A Litany for Survival 
 

10/02/2014

Ruth Must Stay - petition for our member Ruth


Hello LISG supporters

We'd really appreciate it if you could sign and circulate the petition below for our member Ruth.

 https://www.change.org/petitions/theresa-may-please-give-ruth-refugee-status-on-the-grounds-of-her-sexuality 

Ruth is an active member of the Lesbian Immigration Support Group in Manchester, where she flourishes in an environment in which it is safe to express her sexuality, in short to be herself. If returned to Nigeria she is at serious risk of extreme harm, possibly even death.

25/01/2014

LISG member Jacqueline detained - please sign petition to support her release

 
LISG member Jacqueline was detained yesterday at Dallas Court signing centre by the UK Border Agency.
 
Jacqueline, who loves singing with Manchester Lesbian and Gay chorus, has had a claim for asylum refused and is preparing a fresh claim. We need to make a fuss to stop her being deported to danger in Uganda. As a known lesbian who been previously imprisoned in Uganda, Jacqueline is likely to suffer violence, imprisonment or even a threat to her life if she is returned. 

Please would you add your name to this petition:
 
Although Ugandan President Museveni recently blocked a proposed law to give life sentences to lesbians and gays, he clearly stated that he wants the abnormal condition of homosexuality cured, and recruits rescued. Gays and lesbians in Uganda still face prison sentences of up to seven years.

LISG volunteer Karen has been to visit Jacqueline in the holding centre. For the latest information on Jacqueline's detention, please visit our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lesbian-Immigration-Support-Group-LISG/265343636867848