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African LGBTQ activist finally granted asylum in UK

28 August 20170 comments

Nigerian LGBTQ activist Aderonke Apata has finally been granted asylum by Britain’s High Court after thirteen years battling to prove her sexual identity.

Some African countries have prohibitive laws against homosexuality with same sex marriage currently classified as a crime that can attract up to 14 years in prison or even the death sentence.

The court’s ruling comes as Australia is about to hold a postal plebiscite on whether or not to allow same-sex marriage.

Ms Apata, says she was pressured into marrying a man in order to sustain her long term relationship with her girlfriend.

“The wider society in Nigeria would always give us messages. Their message is usually that anybody attracted to same sex is possessed by demons,” Ms Apata said.

Eventually, Aderonke Apata ran away from her husband and moved in with her girlfriend.

This led to the Sharia Court sentencing her to death for witchcraft and adultery by stoning.

As a result, Apata’s girlfriend of 20 years was murdered by vigilantes whilst her husband underwent an “honour killing”, Ms Apata told the court.

During a short trial break in her trial in 2004, Ms Apata fled to London seeking asylum, in fear of imprisonment and death because of her sexual orientation.

However, in 2012 and 2015 the High Court denied her asylum, ruling that Ms Apata had engaged in same sex relationships in order to “fabricate” her asylum based on sexuality.

“Having been forced to flee by hate and intolerance at home, being branded as a liar by the Home Office was demonizing and cruel,” Ms Apata said this week.

Ms Apata was so desperate to claim asylum to the extent that she submitted private DVD’s and photographic evidence of her sex life as evidence to convince the government that she was gay.

Executive Director of LGBTQ rights group Kaleidoscope Trust Paul Dilane claims that Apata’s legal battle was an “egregious miscarriage of justice”.

“They locked her up without justification, drove her to severe depression and tried ceaselessly to deport her. The asylum system is homophobic and unjust. It needs radical intervention,” he told the British media.

Multiple petitions in support of Apata’s asylum were created with one gaining nearly a quarter of a million signatures.

During Ms Apata’s time in Britain, she became the founder of the African Rainbow Family, a group committed in advancing a humane and fair process for people who flee persecution to the UK due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

“I’m extremely overwhelmed with joy and gladness to know that now I’m safe and can live freely as a human being,” Ms Apata posted on her Facebook page after the High Court ruling.

Currently, she is campaigning for the repeal of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA) in Nigeria.

“As you rejoice with me for being safe, kindly remember that there are many people still in the same position I was in for over 13 years,” Ms Apata said, pointing out that being openly gay is effectively illegal in more than 70 countries.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Home Office says “it remains committed to improving the asylum process for those claiming asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity”.


Magy Mekhaiel