‘I would rather die in a British detention centre than be returned to Uganda’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A lesbian asylum seeker has been granted a last minute temporary reprieve from deportation to Uganda but says she despairs for her future if the Home Office doesn’t change its mind.

Judith Twiith Twikireze was due to board a plane at Heathrow bound for Uganda yesterday.

The deportation was halted when officials became aware of her judicial review.

She is being held in the Colnbrook Detention Centre in Berkshire. Ms Twikireze told PinkNews that she had stopped eating and would rather “die” in the centre than be returned to Uganda.

Publicity of her case meant that she fears homophobic reprisals if sent back to the country.

She accused the Home Office of ignoring medical statements from four qualified individuals and of giving her no time to prepare for her case.

“The Home Office are not listening to anything I give them. They are ignoring my medical reports”, she added: “I’m a victim of torture but the Home Office don’t want to know.”

Ms Twikireze has been placed on the widely-condemned Detained Fast Track (DFT) system.

Campaigners say Ms Twikireze was forced to undergo “a torturous exorcism” ritual in Uganda as a young child in a bid to ‘cure’ her from being gay.

She says she still bears the scars of sharp lacerations on her joints and the trauma of human degradation.

The African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group is calling for Ms Twikireze’s deportation to be stopped.

They are urging the public to sign a petition against the Home Office’s decision.

Correspondence published in the Change.org petition suggests the Home Office rejected Ms Twikireze’s request on several questionable points.

It’s claimed the Home Office refused to accept a letter from Ms Twikireze’s counsellor because the counsellor did not state if she was qualified to make such findings, and that it allegedly refused to accept a letter from Ms Twikireze’s doctor because the letter did not indicate her qualification.

The department reportedly accepted that Ms Twikireze may have been examined by a witch doctor and had suffered injuries – however it allegedly said that it could not be proved this was because of her sexuality.

The Home Office also allegedly accepted that a photo of Ms Twikireze had appeared in the notorious Red Pepper newspaper – a publication which seeks to out Ugandans who it believes are gay – but apparently went on to say: “The fact that this is the only article in the newspaper in which the font change[s] means it must be considered as an irregularity.”

In response, the Home Office told PinkNews said that it does not “routinely comment” on individual asylum cases. It has always denied claims of deporting asylum seekers back to countries where they are at risk of homophobic persecution.