Huge Success! Lesbian Activist Aderonke Apata Granted Asylum in UK

Aderonke Apata has spent the last 13 years locked in a fierce legal battle to stay in the U.K. after she was forced to flee Nigeria and arrived in England in 2004.

Arrested, Accused Of Adultery, Accused Of Witchcraft

In this interview, she explains what happened when she began living with her girlfriend in Nigeria.

“The wider society in Nigeria would always give us messages. Their message is usually that anybody that is attracted to the same sex is possessed by a demon.”

Apata, who was previously married to a man, moved in with her girlfriend and, as she says, “got caught.” 

“I got arrested, accused of adultery. I was accused of witchcraft. I was tried in Sharia court.”

Sentenced to death, with her husband murdered in an “honor killing,” and her daughter and ex-girlfriend also killed, Apata fled her native Nigeria.

But arriving in the U.K., her ordeal continued.

Persecuted For Her Sexuality

She was held in various prisons and detention centers. The worst was Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedford, where she faced daily verbal abuse from a large population of deeply religious migrants from Nigeria who persecuted her because of her sexuality.

A different person might have given up, but not Aderonke Apata.

She kept on fighting.

In 2015, a High Court judge rejected her asylum bid, refusing to believe she was a lesbian and accusing the longtime LGBTQ activist of lying about her sexuality, despite her submitting intimate video and photographs of her and her partner’s sex life as evidence.

Victory For Care2 Petition Demanding Home Office To Allow Apata To Stay in UK

Jo Harvey Barringer, CEO of Broken Rainbow, an LGBTQ domestic violence helpline, created a Care2 petition demanding that the Home Office save Apata from deportation to Nigeria.

The petition garnered over 71,000 signatures from Care2 members angry that the British government was willing to send Aderonke Apata back to Nigeria despite the certain risk to her life.

Just last week, after 13 years of struggle, Apata has finally been granted refugee status and leave to remain in the U.K.

“Let me first say a huge thank you to my family, friends and everybody here in the UK and all over the world who showed their supports for me throughout this traumatic ordeal and stood by me,” Apata announced in Attitude Magazine.

“The awesome people here in the UK who show me love even including standing up and ready to be witnesses for me in my Court hearing and my brilliant Legal Team who did a tremendous work in sealing this victory off.”

What an amazing woman!

Congratulations to Aderonke Apata and to all the Care2 members and other activists who supported her through this long fight for her rights.

An Inspirational Speaker And Activist

Apata is an inspirational defender of human rights who has spoken widely about her experiences as a gay Nigerian asylum seeker in the U.K. She has faced psychological abuse, having been forced by U.K. courts to “prove” her sexuality since they claimed that she didn’t appear to fit into the “lesbian community.” 

In spite of these struggles, she continues to fight for her own rights and the rights of other detainees.

Recognizing Aderonke Apata’s amazing talent, Care2 awarded her a Campaign Bootcamp scholarship in 2015, to develop her skills and activism.

And just last month, Apata was honored with an Attitude Pride Award for her ongoing LGBTQ activism. This includes founding African Rainbow Family, a group that seeks to help LGBTQ African people when they arrive in the U.K. and have to deal with the notoriously tough and complex asylum system.

UK Rejects Most Asylum Seekers

Here’s what Apata had to say about this system that rejects most people’s claims for asylum:

“The Home Office needs to catch up with the rest of the U.K., drop its vile ‘proof of sexuality’ policy and move on from 1967. All LGBTI people seeking asylum in the U.K. want – like everyone else – is to be treated with fairness, dignity and humanity.

She added: “I hope the Home Office will look back, reflect on my case and treat everyone with the decency and respect they deserve.”

We are thrilled that after such a long struggle, Apata can finally live freely as a human being in the U.K.

Sadly, many other people in the LGBTQ community are still facing deportation to dangerous countries. Let’s make sure we keep campaigning for them.

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video

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