Trans actor denied asylum in Switzerland, despite ‘not feeling safe’ in India

Actor and trans rights activist Living Smile Vidya has said that she does not “feel safe” in her home country of India, after an asylum claim she made to live in Switzerland was rejected.

Vidya, who goes by the nickname “Smiley,” said her asylum case was refused in June.

In a video she posted on Facebook, Smiley, who is from Chennai in east India, said: “They said that India is a very safe country for transgenders. We have a 4000-year-old hijra culture; and hijras are respected here. So, it’s like a lala land for transgenders.”

She continued: “And they said, I’m educated. I speak English. So, I wouldn’t have a problem finding a job here. They said I’ve already gone to America and London… and the third reason is that I wrote an autobiography which was also made into a film. So, I’m famous, I’m like a celebrity, I am celebrated in India and by the Tamil Nadu government. So, I don’t deserve an asylum. That’s what they said.”

Speaking to Indian news site The News Minute, Smiley said she feared for her life in India, adding that she had been receiving threats in response to her activism since around 2014.

“I have always been outspoken about issues of caste and trans rights,” Smiley told The News Minute.

“I’ve been in the public eye for a long time, whether it’s because of my play Color of Trans, or protests like ‘begging for dignity’ and ‘dancing for dignity.’ I’ve made fun of cow worship and anti-beef stance in my work. Perhaps that caught the attention of some people who started giving me threats.”

Smiley said she has appealed the State Secretariat for Migration’s decision.

Smiley is scared of returning to her home country. (Living Smile Vidya/Facebook)

Smiley, who has been living in Switzerland for five months, added: ““I don’t feel safe in India anymore. But I am not ready to die here like this.”

She explained to the news site that she is collecting evidence to submit to the Swiss authorities to provide proof of why she needs asylum there, adding that it would be a “human rights violation” if she is not granted permission to stay in the country.

Smiley is currently working on a new play called  F_femininity, with her shows set to start in Switzerland in October.

Watch the video below: