Uganda’s ‘anti-gay’ law is annulled!

Some fantastic news today! The laws introduced in Uganda in February allowing life imprisonment for ‘aggravated homosexuality’ have been declared ‘null and void’, meaning it has been thrown out with immediate effect.

Harsh laws in Uganda restricting homosexuality remain, but this is still a great victory for those that have been brave enough to challenge the ruling.

You can read more about this excellent news here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-28605400

Margret Nazziwa Released!

Margret Nazziwa

Some good news today!

Margret Nazziwa, a lesbian activist who was facing deportation back to Uganda has today been released from detention and had her deportation deferred.

Margret fled Uganda in 2012 leaving behind her a past of rape, torture and forced marriage, so following the decision today, said “I feel great and I am so happy”.

A review on UK LGBT asylum policy is currently taking place to be published later this month, so here is hoping this will help keep more asylum seekers that need our protection in the UK!

Aderonke Apata

For many asylum seekers, escaping the country that has persecuted them for their sexuality means a chance to finally put the horrors of their past behind them, a chance for a fresh start, a chance to start looking ahead instead of back. This is what Aderonke Apata thought when arrived in the United Kingdom in 2004 having fled Nigeria after her exposure as a gay woman led to her arrest and sentence to death by stoning. 

In the time that has passed since she arrived in the UK, Nigeria has become an even more place for members of the LGBT community to live, with laws brought in in early 2014 making homosexuality an imprisonable offense. And now the UK government want to deport Aderonke back to the country where she faces at best 14 years in prison and at worst death. This cannot be allowed to happen. Find out more about Adronke’s case, and pledge your support by signing the petition to keep Aderonke in the UK by visiting https://www.causes.com/asylum-for-aderonke

Refugee Week 2014

Image

As mentioned in our Pull Up a Chair post on Wednesday, this coming week, from the 16th – 22nd, is Refugee Week 2014 in the United Kingdom. Refugee Week has been running annually since 1998, and is an event designed to show the positive impact refugees have on the UK with the skills and diversity they bring through artistic, cultural and educational events around the country. 

While the week is for refugees of all backgrounds, there will also be some LGBT-specific events. In Leeds for example, as well as Pull Up a Chair, tomorrow evening Leeds Queer Film Festival & Leeds No Borders will be jointly hosting an evening of films about LGBTI asylum seekers, more details of which can be found here- http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/Events/yorkshire-and-humberside/films-about-lgbti-asylum-seekers, and you can find more about all of the events going on around the country here - http://www.refugeeweek.org.uk/ 

And some good news to start refugee week- the deportation of Ugandan lesbian Harriet Nakigudde from the UK has been put on hold. Hopefully this will sign better times for other Ugandans seeking asylum in the UK having left the country following the introduction of Uganda’s ‘anti-gay’ laws. You can read more about Harriet’s case here - http://www.advocate.com/world/2014/06/11/uk-grants-reprieve-ugandan-lesbian-facing-deportation

Pull Up a Chair

Image

Recently, members of ReachOut in Leeds, together with members of the Lesbian Immigration Support Group in Manchester, contributed to the ‘Pull Up a Chair’ art project. The concept, conceived by Dr Catherine Stones from the School of Design, was for members of the LGBT community that have sought asylum in the UK having been persecuted in their country of birth, to illustrate their sense of belonging in the United Kingdom by painting chairs.

Why chairs?

“ The chair is a powerful symbol of belonging – when we offer people a seat we invite them to stay. Chairs can also be clustered together or be set apart, leaving a visual record of group dynamics or of loneliness. They also offer physical support and comfort and allow us to rest.”

Pictures of the chairs, as well as posters collating separately the positive messages on living in the United Kingdom and the negative messages about the countries the artists had to leave, can be seen on the website here-  http://lgbtpullupachair.wordpress.com/, and the chairs will be on display during Refugee Week at Leeds Central Library. 

Refugee Week will take place from the 16th-22nd of June, and there will be a further post about it on this blog later this week, so keep a look out for it!

All Out – Building a Global Movement for Love and Equality

Image

While new laws and legislations are being passed around the world to bring equal rights to the LGBT community, it is no secret that there are many countries around the world that still have a serious problem. In this article in the Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/16/lgbt-rights-fight-is-far-from-over - All Out founder Andre Banks writes about the current LGBT equality rights situation worldwide, some causes for optimism and some alarming cases highlighting why everybody needs to do what they can, have their voices heard, in the fight for equality.  

You can find out more about the work AllOut is doing, donate and join the movement by visiting https://www.allout.org/. AllOut’s mission reads ‘Our mission is to build a world where no person will have to sacrifice family or freedom, safety or dignity, because of who they are or whom they love.’ – that is surely a cause worth supporting.

What is it like to be LGBT in your country?

Image

In the build up to Inernational Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (mentioned in last week’s blog post, http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/#), the Guardian has been asking readers about their experiences living as part of the LGBT community in their countries. Read about what they have to say here – http://www.theguardian.com/world/guardianwitness-blog/2014/may/16/whats-it-like-being-lgbt-around-the-world, and if you wish to share you experiences, contact the Guardian, as they are keeping the topic open for further accounts.

This week, we are also proud to share that the UK has also been ranked as #1 for LGBT rights in Europe for the third consecutive year! You can read here what it is that has put the UK in the top spot, and how other countries in Europe fared: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/05/13/uk-ranked-top-in-europe-for-lgbt-rights-for-third-year-in-a-row/