Thursday, December 22, 2005

Lesbian Asylum Seeker Ends Hunger Strike

(Link) She seeks safe haven in a new country because homophobic violence in Zimbabwe will kill her. After nearly killing herself by skipping food for 33 days, she finally got the UK's attention.

1 comment:

LNewsEditor said...

JIC Post:
From News Zimbabwe

A ZIMBABWEAN woman being held in a UK detention centre has ended a 33-day hunger strike after being finally given the right to a bail hearing after six months incarceration.

The woman was protesting her detention without trial, as she is an asylum applicant to the UK. She says that as a lesbian, she faces homophobic violence in her native Zimbabwe and cannot return.

An independent doctor assessed the woman early this month, and as a result of malnutrition recommended she be transferred to a hospital. The detention centre initially refused to comply, but later agreed to provide hospital care as her condition deteriorated.

“(The woman) has now received medical treatment and is slowly recovering. Last week, she was transferred from hospital back to Yarls Wood Detention Centre,” said the African Affairs spokesman of LGBT rights group OutRage.

“We are backing her bail application and her bid for asylum in the UK. It would be criminal to return her to the hell-hole that is Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.”

The woman who cannot be named for her protection, initially escaped Zimbabwe in 1994 after she was beaten by police and told to renounce her lesbianism or face further beatings and arrest. She went into hiding in South Africa after escaping twice from a refugee detention centre there.

In South Africa she faced further violence because of her sexuality, and was forced into prostitution under violence and threats. She escaped to the UK with the help of a friend.

A UK Immigration Tribunal halted all deportations to Zimbabwe after ruling that they faced possible torture in Zimbabwe. Subsequently, hudreds of Zimbabwean asylum seekers held in UK detention centres were released.

However, the UK continues to detain Zimbabweans who came into the country using passports obtained in neighbouring countries -- notably in South Africa, Zambia and Malawi.

The UK government insists they are not Zimbabwean nationals -- including in some cases where the South African government has confirmed them as none South African citizens.