Aderonke Apata is an LBGBT rights activist, who moved to the UK from Nigeria in 2004. However, her application for asylum on the grounds of her sexuality was rejected last year, despite providing proof of former girlfriends in both the UK and Nigeria.
Ms Apata claims she is at risk of being deported to Nigeria, which an increasingly conservative Nigeria, as of January 2014 it is illegal to be gay; the punishment is imprisonment, and on a less official scale, the fear of vigilante attacks is high.
However, Andrew Bird, the lawyer for the Home Secretary Theresa May, yesterday told a court that the UK would be happy to deport Ms. Apata because, well, she doesn’t seem gay to him. Saying that although Ms Apata had “indulged in same-sex activity” she was “not part of the social group known as lesbians” because she had children.
“You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race.”
Um, sorry… did this guy miss the memo that there are plenty of lesbians who don’t realise they’re gay until later on in life, especially those who live in countries where it just isn’t accepted to ‘come out’. And also bisexual women who can find people of either sex attractive?
Ms Apata’s barrister Abid Mahmood attacked the claims as “highly offensive… stereotypical views of the past.”
“Some members of the public may have those views but it doesn’t mean a government department should be putting these views forward in evidence. There is evidence of the genuineness of her case, that she will be picked out as a lesbian if she is returned.”
Deputy High Court judge John Bowers QC has delayed a decision for three weeks, saying he would like time to go over all the arguments.
For what it’s worth, Ms. Apata is in a relationship with a woman called Happiness Agboro; they’re engaged and were holding hands at the court yesterday.
Speaking outside the court alongside her female partner, Ms Apata told the Independent:
“The Home Office has treated me badly from day one. Staying in Britain means staying safe, staying with my partner and continuing my campaigning.”
In the UK, the government is allowed to grant people asylum on the basis of their sexuality, if it is one that could mean they’re persecuted or punished in their home country. However, the Home Office has a bad record with dealing with these sorts of cases. Until the EU banned the tests, LGBT asylum seekers have had to undergo quizzes to ‘prove’ their sexuality, like knowing stuff about 19th Century writer Oscar Wilde or answering ‘sexually intrusive’ questions about their sexuality like ‘what do you get from a homosexual relationship you can’t get from a heterosexual relationship’ and ‘Did you put your penis into X’s backside?’
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