Ugandan lesbian asylum seeker who was facing deportation will now be released

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A lesbian activist and asylum seeker who was due to be deported to Uganda from the UK, is to be released today.

Margret Nazziwa, fled Uganda in 2012 after experiencing persecution because of her sexual orientation. It’s claimed she was forced into a heterosexual marriage, was a victim of rape, and tortured by her community and the Ugandan authorities.

After having been detained in Yarls Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire, and having been told she would be deported on Sunday, today the Home Office told campaigners that her deportation would be “deferred”.

Shortly after PinkNews learned of the deferral, Ms Nazziwa heard that she would be released later today.

Speaking to PinkNews from Yarls Wood, Ms Nazziwa said: “I feel great and I am so happy. I am grateful and I would like to thank all the people who have been supporting me. I’m so happy that UKBA are releasing me, and that they have agreed to hear my case again.”

The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group held a protest outside the Home Office in Westminster, central London, on Friday 10 July, and a petition calling for Ms Nazziwa’s release was delivered.

It said: “Margret’s safety is paramount and she is highly needed in the gay rights movement. She has fought hard to defend the voiceless and now she needs us to defend her.”

Edwin Sesange, who campaigned for Ms Nazziwa’s release, told PinkNews: “I would like to thank the UK Government for releasing Margret from Yarls Wood.”

A Home Office spokesperson told PinkNews it does not routinely discuss individual cases, but said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits.

“When someone is found not to need our protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily. Where they do not we will seek to enforce their departure.”

The Home Office has come under renewed criticism over its policy on processing LGBT asylum claims.

Last week, the High Court ruled that fast track detention, a system used to process the vast majority of LGBT asylum cases, was “unlawful”.

Decisions to deport are often made before a claimant’s legal appeal has been fully exhausted.

Mr Justice Ouseley said the system carries an “unacceptably high risk of unfairness.”

On Thursday, the Home Office once again rejected claims of deporting LGBT asylum seekers.

Conservative minister Baroness Susan Williams recently admitted that the UK Government did not know how many asylum claims from Uganda were made on the basis of sexual orientation.

A review of UK LGBT asylum policy by Sir John Vine, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, will be published this month.