Lesbian asylum seeker told to ‘prove’ she’s gay by handing over naked pictures

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Zimbabwean lesbian asylum seeker has claimed that she was told to hand over naked pictures to ‘prove’ her sexuality to UK authorities.

Skhumbuzo Khumalo, 24, fled her home country in fear of her life after suffering a violent attack at the hands of police.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe, and though female homosexuality is not a crime, the LGBT community faces violence and regular clamp-downs encouraged by President Mugabe.

After fleeing to the UK and claiming asylum in 2014, Ms Khumalo spent weeks at a detention centre. She narrowly avoided deportation back to Zimbabwe, and was granted asylum in June 2015.
Lesbian asylum seeker told to ‘prove’ she’s gay by handing over naked pictures
However, speaking to asylum groups Fixers, Ms Khumalo opened up about the shocking lengths she had to go to to ‘prove’ her sexuality.

She said: “Clearly just by looking at you, they will not judge if you are gay or straight.

“So they left me in a position where I had to produce photos of a sexual nature, which I didn’t feel comfortable sharing.

“The officer began flicking through the photos while I was sat in front of him. It was extremely degrading.

“I was asked lots of personal questions, and then I was asked if I could go back home and live in another city and hide the fact that I’m gay.

“I thought, ‘how can you hide the fact that you love a certain person? It’s ridiculous’.

She added: “When I thought I might be sent back to Zimbabwe, I felt like committing suicide, because me ending my life is better than people back home ending it for me.”

Ms Khumalo also recalled the horrific attack that forced her to flee for her life.

She said: “I have nightmares almost every night. It’s as if it only happened yesterday.

“I was like any other child, I had a happy childhood, everything you’d want and hope your childhood to be but then it changed.

“A group of police officers forced their way in. Everyone scattered as they began beating us.

“I was told: ‘You need to be fixed. We’ll kill you. Gay people are demonic and possessed’.

“I saw one of them reach for the teapot, and to my horror, he threw the boiling water over me. I was screaming in agony; it was so painful.”

“I was left with big blisters which have since turned into scars. I was lucky to escape with my life.

“After the attack I felt my dignity, self-respect and confidence drain away. I couldn’t live like that anymore.

“I left Zimbabwe because of the torture I was facing.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we do not deport anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality.

“All applicants are required to establish they face persecution, inhumane or degrading treatment in their home country to qualify for our protection.

“We deal with any matters concerning an individual’s sexual orientation as sensitively as possible and our guidance is clear that staff are not permitted to ask inappropriate or intrusive questions, or ask for evidence of an explicit nature.”

Theresa May ordered a review of the procedures for LGBT asylum claims in 2014 after reports that official procedures were not being followed, but there have been a number of controversial cases since.