UK asked to stop removal of Ugandan lesbian

altShe was attacked by three men and branded by iron over sexuality

Human Rights bodies have appealed to the British Government to stop removal of a Ugandan lesbian.

Betty Tibikawa, 22, applied for asylum in the UK but her application was turned down.

She is detained in Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre in Bedford, and is awaiting removal directions.

In Uganda Betty was branded with a hot iron as a punishment for her sexuality. She was ‘outed’ in a Ugandan tabloid called the Red Pepper, last February, saying that she was wanted by the authorities for being a lesbian. This put her life at increased risk, and after the newspaper publicly identified her as a lesbian, Betty’s family disowned her.

Betty says she is unable to sleep and has been having terrible nightmares since she was abducted and tortured by three men in Uganda.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. An anti-homosexuality bill calling for more punitive measures against gay people was due to be voted on by the Ugandan Parliament in recent weeks, but it was not discussed. There is a chance it will be brought before parliament again later in the year. Human Rights organisations have consistently documented abuses against gay men and lesbians in Uganda, and say that it’s one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT people.
Yet the British Government has decided to send Betty back to Uganda, a country where she was brutally attacked and injured, and where David Kato, a Ugandan gay activist, was murdered just few months ago.

And this is in spite of the UK Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Nick Clegg, saying that the UK would not deport people to countries where they face persecution because of their sexual orientation.

Human Rights bodies say that the UK Border Agency’s decision in Betty’s case, and in the cases of other gay men and lesbians seeking asylum from persecution in Uganda – flies in the face of the values espoused in a recent speech by Mr. Clegg.

Another Ugandan lesbian, B.N., was due to be removed from the UK in January, but her removal was suspended following intervention by her lawyers. Her case is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal in July.

A 34-year-old gay man from Uganda was due to be removed from the UK on 17th May. The UK Border Agency has not confirmed whether or not the removal went ahead.

Human Rights bodies say that in the face of these startling acts of doublespeak by the UK authorities, it is time to start holding the UK Government to account for the discrepancies between the values they like to claim publicly, and those upon which they truly act.

In a joint statement, EveryOne Group, Certi Diritti Radical Association, Arcigay – Italian national lesbian and gay association, CGIL “New Rights” Area and No Peace Without Justice, called on the “UK Border Agency and the British Government to give Betty Tibikawa leave to remain in the UK, with refugee status, and to stop deporting people persecuted for their sexual orientation.”