Fatina, Grace, Hamid and Orashia: Stories of Bisexual Asylum Seekers
Gay Star News 19/01/2018
As part of [Gay Star News] Bi+ Manifesto season, desperate asylum seekers have shared the devastating reality in the ways they are discriminated against once they reach ‘safer shores’. [Stories collected by Joe Morgan].
As part of [Gay Star News] Bi+ Manifesto season, desperate asylum seekers have shared the devastating reality in the ways they are discriminated against once they reach ‘safer shores’.
Fearing death, assaults, rapes and arrest at home, many risk everything in a bid for freedom.
However gay and trans people are more likely to win their cases. Bisexual people are often deported back to their countries of origin.
This means being sent back to one of the 72 countries where homosexuality is illegal.
Judges, asylum officers and lawyers are often not trained in bisexuality and their ignorance can lead to fatal consequences.
A bisexual Pakistani woman, who we will call Fatina, was beaten to death days after being deported in 2015. She was 22. Having gone to France to study, she discovered her identity and a girlfriend. She wished to claim asylum and remain in France, free to be herself. Her claim was rejected on the basis the asylum officers did not believe her. Fatina was technically engaged to be married to a man in Pakistan.
Fatina’s sister told GSN: ‘Our uncle had read what she posted on Facebook. He saw a picture of Fatina and her girlfriend kissing. On Fatina’s return, he prepared a “welcome party” of many of his friends. She died in hospital days later from multiple skull fractures.’
The UK has rejected thousands of claims based on bisexuality. Data shows the Home Office, in the past two years, have turned away two thirds of the 3,535 gay or bi asylum applications.
Every bisexual asylum seeker GSN has spoken to for this story has said they were all asked this question:
‘Can you have a relationship with a person of the opposite gender?’
Because asylum officers fail to understand bisexuality is attraction to multiple genders, or are unable to see you cannot help who you fall in love with, they reject many credible claims.
This assumption a bisexual person can just go home and be in a relationship with the opposite gender is dangerous.
‘Very few people in my country or in African countries can differentiate between LGBT. They term it as gay,’ Kirumila Hamid, a bisexual Ugandan appealing his failed asylum claim in the UK, said.
‘If you say you are transgender, bisexual, whatever – you’re just gay. They can’t tell the difference. In our countries it is very hard to say “I’m bisexual”. Gay is the general term.’
Grace, a bisexual Nigerian woman who is appealing her asylum rejection in Canada, agrees.
‘Once you are considered a gay, there’s nothing else that can change their minds. You can’t just explain it,’ she said.
When Grace revealed her sexuality to her husband, he raped her repeatedly to ‘clean away the sickness’.
When Orashia Edwards, originally from Jamaica, came to the UK and filed an asylum claim he was rejected. They delayed to make the decision for five years, and said they would review the case in 2020.
While he was in a relationship with a man, the UK government did not believe him as he was previously married to a woman.
In the two-and-a-half years since his reprieve, his partner Michael died of a heart attack.
Orashia is now in a relationship with a woman. His mother Vienna fears this fact will be used against him in an upcoming court date. Both Vienna and Orashia’s mental health has taken severe turns for the worse. Mother and son are being treated for anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
‘With all the stress and trauma we both went through, Orashia’s brain has been blown out,’ Vienna said.
‘I’m always worried something’s going to happen if he is put on a plane. I can’t settle. I’m always worried fearing I’ve lost him.’
A. Briddock, with the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, has called for judges to give bisexual asylum seekers ‘respect and understanding’.
‘Understanding would be good but you would expect respect to be given. It’s not,’ he said.
‘They don’t give respect to the identity of bisexuality and don’t give respect to the lives of a bisexual person. They just don’t get it.
‘Judges just think you want to have it both ways and go back and live as a straight person. They need to respect bisexuality as a concept.’