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‘Full of agony and pain’: one lesbian’s fight against the racist immigration system

Aderonke Apata, sentenced to death for her sexuality, fled to Britain – now she needs our support to win the right to stay, writes Howard Galois

February 25, 2015
3 min read

Another month, another scandal at the notorious Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre. The most recent report documents constant and routine harassment of the women detainees by the guards. So many faced horrors before getting to Britain, only to be subjected to the racist whims of the Home Office and its detention apparatus on arrival.

One such detainee was Aderonke Apata. Aderonke was arrested and tortured by the Nigerian police after graduating from university. She was forced to endure the murder of three of her family, including her girlfriend of 20 years. When Aderonke was sentenced to death by stoning for her sexuality, she fled to the UK.

Instead of sanctuary from persecution, from the time of her arrival she faced detention and state harassment. When forcibly held in Yarl’s Wood – a time Aderonke described as ‘fearful, full of agony and pain’ – she organised other detainees to protest the ongoing deportations and brutal treatment by the guards and the state.

But she refuses to be crushed, and despite the horrors is still an active feminist, LGBT campaigner and all-round force for social justice. Fighting injustice on all fronts, she formed Manchester Migrant Solidarity, is a patron of the LGBT advice group Proud2be Project and LGBT domestic violence charity Broken Rainbow, works with radical social change funding group Edge Fund – and that’s just the start.

Now, she needs our help. Our Aderonke is at risk of deportation to her death for as long as Britain’s Home Office remains unwilling to admit that she’s a lesbian.

Her asylum claim, despite all the evidence she provided, was cast aside by the UK government. She appealed that outrageous decision, and the long-awaited judicial review hearing for her asylum claim is coming up next month.

The asylum system in the UK is racist and homophobic – that shouldn’t be denied. We need to organise to stop any and all deportations under such an unjust system. The more people that are in court on the day, the less likely the state is to ignore Aderonke’s appeal.

So let’s pack the courtroom. Aderonke must stay!

Date: Tuesday 3 March 2015
Time: from 9am
Where: Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, WC2N 5HX
Facebook event


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