Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Petition: Don't Deport Orashia

You can sign HERE

UPDATE - Orashia is currently in Morton Hall detention centre, this is the 4th time he has been detained! This is putting a huge strain on his mental & physical health.

His fantastic legal team are working around the clock but the Home Office might try & issue yet more removal directions soon so please be ready to once again call the airline. 

Keep an eye on Defend Orashia FB page for updates :)

Thank you so much for all the support so far.

If he is forcibly removed by the Home Office, his life is in severe danger in Jamaica. All is family are settled in the UK and he would be completely isolated and in hiding. His case has gained mass media attention and support in the past months and he has become well known both here in the UK and in Jamaica.

In 2013 a Home Office spokesman said: ”We have changed our guidance to ensure that we do not remove individuals who have demonstrated a proven risk of persecution on grounds of sexual orientation.'' ( Why is this then happening to people like Orashia?

Orashia is an amazing person who has the ability to shine so much more than he has been given a chance to here in Britain. He is a faithful friend and does what he can to help and support others going through similar issues to him. He has a close family, many friends and is involved in various groups and organisations around Leeds. His situation has meant that life is a daily unknown battle for himself, his family, especially his mother who works overtime on order to support him, and those closest to him. Please sign this petition and demand Orashia be given a fair chance at a real life now and not be punished for his sexuality.

You can watch a short documentary about Orashia's story called State of Limbo here:

Another documentary called Judgement Day about Orashia's court hearing on 30th June can be watched here:

Here is a Channel 4 documentary - Unreported World, Jamaica's Underground Gays. 

Also the Guardian newspaper carried a piece on the issue:

An asylum seeker who says he will be killed if he is returned to Jamaica because he is bisexual could be deported from Britain imminently, his family has said.

Thirty-four-year-old Orashia Edwards, who is currently being held at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire, was refused refugee status in December 2013 when an asylum tribunal refused to accept that he was bisexual. He has since been embroiled in a long-running appeals process to have the decision overturned.

His supporters insist that he has had relationships with men as well as women, including his current same-sex partner, with whom he has been in a relationship with for around two years.

Speaking from detention, Edwards accused the Home Office of handling his case unjustly. He said that an asylum tribunal had rejected his claim that he had been in a relationship with a man in Antigua, where he lived for a time before coming to the UK.

“They said I was lying about my sexuality because I couldn’t remember details of the relationship,” said Edwards, who has agreed to be identified to highlight his case.

“I couldn’t tell them his date of birth, all I could remember was his star sign. He wrote a letter confirming that we had been in a relationship, but they refused to believe that we had been more than friends.”

The Home Office also pointed to the fact that Edwards was unsure of whether his partner had had any brothers or sisters, although LGBT immigration campaigners say that in countries such as Antigua – where male same-sex activity is punished by up to 15 years in prison – it is not unusual for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to withhold personal information even from intimate partners.

Edwards said he feared for his life if forced to leave the UK. “In Jamaica there is a huge amount of homophobia,” he said.

“If you go into the dancehalls and the clubs they play music saying: ‘If you are a batty man [a derogatory term for a gay or bisexual man] you get a bullet in the head, if you are a batty man you are condemned.’

“If I go back I will be tortured, I will be killed for sure. Because my case has been covered in Jamaican media there will be no way for me to hide. I’ve already received death threats on social media, people say I’m making the country look bad.”

Jamaica has repeatedly come under fire from human rights organisations over its treatment of LGBT people. The country’s anti-sodomy law carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years. LGBT rights activists have been murdered and one campaign group has documented hundreds of homophobic attacks. A video posted on a Jamaican blog in March 2015 purported to show a mob stoning to death a young man they suspected of being gay.

Edwards said he believed the Home Office had unfairly weighted the fact that he had been married to a woman and has a young daughter against his claim.

He added that he had submitted intimate pictures of himself and another man to the Home Office in an attempt to prove his sexuality, but that they had been discounted because he was not in a relationship with the man in the photographs.

“I told him about my situation and he suggested making the pictures,” Edwards said.

“It was extremely degrading for me to have to do, and still they didn’t believe me. I’m not a liar, it has taken years for me to be honest with myself about my sexuality and I’m not trying to lie to anyone else.”

Edwards’ mother, Vienna Brown, who is a resident of the UK, said her son would be left without any form of support in Jamaica.

“He has no one there,” she said. “His friends, his partner Michael, his entire life is here in the UK. If they send him back everyone will know who he is. He couldn’t hide his sexuality, even if he wanted to. They are sending my son to die.”

Migration and LGBT campaign groups have long been critical of Britain’s treatment of people claiming asylum on the basis of their sexuality. Paul Dillane, from the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, argued that procedures used to determine an applicant’s sexual orientation were inappropriate.

“One of the main problems that our clients face is having to ‘prove’ their sexuality to the Home Office,” he said.

“Many LGBT people are refused asylum as the Home Office simply refuses to accept their stated sexual or gender identity or the evidence they adduce: for example, their own testimony or supporting statements from family, friends and partners.

“For too long civil servants have resorted to relying on false stereotypes and humiliating questions to probe a claimant’s sexuality. These practices are degrading and need to stop.”

He added that bisexual claimants like Edwards faced particular difficulties in dealing with the Home Office.

“Civil servants and judges often wrongly label bisexual men and women as gay or lesbian, failing to appreciate it is a unique identity, or impose their narrow understanding of bisexuality on an asylum claimant,” he said.

“For instance, bisexual men or women with children are frequently dismissed as liars. There have also been cases where bisexual claimants have been asked why they simply cannot limit themselves to the opposite sex.

“These stereotypes and misconceptions corrupt the asylum system. Given the persecution LGBT people face around the world these asylum claims are often matters of life and death.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

Also see previous entries here:

Bisexual man facing deportation to Jamaica


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