Target: The UK Home Office, Home Secretary Theresa May, Prime Minister David Cameron
Goal: Offer asylum to Ugandan lesbian refugee and mother Aidah Asaba
Aidah Asaba, who is 27, came to the United Kingdom in October 2013 seeking asylum. Uganda had recently passed its now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill that criminalizes same-sex relationships and any public depiction of gay or lesbian lifestyles. Furthermore, Asaba’s family frequently beat, tortured, and attacked her after learning that she was a lesbian. At one point, she was locked in a room with her father as he punched her repeatedly. Asaba shared her story and told that even after escaping her abusive family, she was targeted by community leaders for “spreading” homosexuality and being a supposed threat to other Ugandan women. Asaba could not go to police and had no legal protection against her family or other community members, because to seek help would mean to reveal her identity as a lesbian woman and face danger.
Asaba’s family forced her to marry a man. During her arranged marriage she endured rape and physical violence repeatedly, later forced to have her rapist’s child.
When Asaba finally escaped Uganda in 2013, she was forced to leave her four-year-old daughter behind. As part of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, her family was required to inform the police about her fleeing the country for reasons regarding her sexuality. If she returns to Uganda, she could be prosecuted for her violations of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Despite her hardships and the real threat posed to her life if she is deported, the UK placed Asaba in an asylum detention center in January 2014. The UK is now denying her request for asylum partly on the basis that Asaba did not regularly go to gay clubs. They found her claim to be a lesbian inconclusive and the UK Home Office has fast-tracked her deportation, denying Asaba the time she needs to prove her sexuality and her need for asylum. Both Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Africa Out and Proud Diamond Group have backed Asaba’s story and corroborate her story.
“I fear for my life if they will take me back to Uganda, my life has become worthless,” she is quoted as saying. “I wish I wasn’t born, it is too much for me to bear. I cannot believe I am going to meet my death in Uganda because of my sexuality… I am only praying for a miracle to happen such that I can live my life without fear of being persecuted or killed because of my sexuality. Please I beg the UK Government to help me.” We started a petition to have Asaba released from custody, and many of you helped us get the word out there by signing it and sharing it online.
Thankfully, these efforts were successful, and Asaba’s deportation has been cancelled. She will be allowed to stay in the UK and will avoid the suffering that would be inflicted upon her had she been forced to return to Uganda. While it is devastating that Asaba cannot safely return to her home, her family, and her daughter, the UK’s decision to allow her to stay is a great step to securing both human and LGBT rights.
Sign the petition below to thank UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May for cancelling Aidah Asaba’s deportation and releasing her from custody.
Dear Prime Minister David Cameron,
I am writing this letter to thank you for canceling Aidah Asaba’s deportation and releasing her custody. By allowing her to stay in the UK, you are saving a young black woman’s life. It saddens me that Uganda is currently unable of seeing how dangerous and hateful their homophobic policies are, but it heartens me to see that countries like the UK are willing to offer asylum to LGBT Ugandan refugees.
We must continue to improve ourselves as nations, and part of that improvement includes social justice. We can only be as strong as poorest citizens. Bigotry and hatred have long been a part of every culture on earth, but as enter the 21st century, we must look at ourselves and consider change. Uganda is by no means the first or last country to enact homophobic laws, and we hope that wherever these injustices appear, you will continue to do what you can to provide asylum to refugees from those countries, and to rid your own country of prejudices as you encounter them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mariska Jung via Flickr