Wednesday, 17 July 2013

LGBT asylum seekers speak out.

On Saturday, the annual LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) Pride March was held in Bristol. A block of about 40 people joined the march to tell everyone how LGBT asylum seekers are treated by the UKBA and to challenge the Racist Immigration Border controls, demanding the Right to Asylum for All. 

I interviewed two gay asylum seekers who were so excited to know people in Bristol were speaking up to support LGBT asylum seekers that they came from London to join us!

Interview with Noah:

I came to Bristol today to be part of Pride march. Pride is part of me, being a gay man I want to support the gay community. I am proud of who I am.” said Noah, a gay Ugandan man who is a refugee seeing asylum and part of Movement for Justice.

I am part of Movement for Justice (MFJ) We help asylum seekers. Not just LGBT asylum seekers but all who need help, who run because of persecution. Since I got involved I have made lots of friends and it has really relieved my depressions. We have meetings every Sunday.

There are many LGBT asylum seekers out there. They don't want to be public but I think people must come out. If you don't tell people you ran because of your sexuality then you won't get the help you need and the Home Office are less likely to believe you. To help LGBT asylum seekers we need to tell people we are out here, willing to help them.

Interview with Joseph:

I am glad I am here in Bristol at Pride, meeting people who feel the same and who give support to asylum seekers. I am really grateful. I love the spirit of togetherness.

I would be happy if this spirit spread all across UK. When I talk about togetherness, I talk about a sense of community all across the UK; LGBT people, asylum seekers, straight people, whoever you are. We need to understand what people from different sexual orientations are going through, what people from different countries are going through.

I am Ugandan, a proud gay Ugandan. My country is a beautiful place. There is one big problem – the torture and persecution of people who are lesbians, gay, not straight. Lesbian and gay Ugandans – we cannot survive.

As a teenager it was tough for me. I was an intelligent kid. I knew I was gay and I knew I had a dark future ahead of me. Discreteness was the order of the day to survive. But being discrete damaged me, I lost focus, it was hard to talk to anyone. Very few people want to hear. My dad threatened me as he suspected.

I came to the UK on a visitor's visa. I was here. I came out as felt safer. I had to come out, if not I'd be caught in a cocoon – I felt like I was dying inside. Then my family found out, they disowned me and I could not go back. I knew if I went back, I would not be safe. That was eight years ago.

I stayed and I felt safe. It took me a long time to get use to life here, learning how to catch a bus, get a round. It took much longer before I knew I could claim asylum and how to do it. Now the UKBA use this against me.

Relationships didn't go well as I was dependent, not allowed to work. I am still homeless, I get by with support from friends who are not homophobic. I have experienced a lot of discrimination and homophobia. As an asylum seeker I have many problems, I think all asylum seekers have these problems.

I've been involved in MFJ for 4 months. I love its work. It supports minority groups to be recognised as humans in this country. Everyone on this land has value, the authority treats peoples is not fair at all, it treats us like animals. We need a good life.

This is more than about me trying to get status. It is much more than that. My aim is to name and shame how the asylum system operates. My message to other asylum seekers if stay strong, keep fighting and if you are lesbian or gay, come out and join this movement. Wherever I go I tell people this.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Report from Leeds DIGNITY FOR ASYLUM SEEKERS - UK Indymedia

Leeds Dignity for Asylum Seekers | 02.07.2013 21:42 | Anti-racism | Migration | Repression

The first Leeds Dignity for Asylum Seekers protest was fantastic! It was part of a national day of action, which saw protests in Bristol, Sheffield, Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. There was a great atmosphere with special thanks to our friends from Bassa Bassa for all those fantastic tunes. It was great to see so many faces and let's continue to build on this.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Report from Bristol march

A giant 10-foot 'scapegoat' paraded through the streets of Bristol on Saturday for the first asylum seeker-led national day of action against destitution called for by Bristol Dignity for Asylum Seekers, with events also taking place in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and Glasgow and Birmingham.    

Marching along old market in Bristol
"The scapegoat sends a message to everyone that we are not to blame, that punishing us does not help society. We want to contribute and be safe”
Thulani Ndlovu, 39, BRR member who spoke on the Bristol march.

The asylum seekers who started self-organising last year have had to overcome language barriers and traumatic personal experiences to arrange the march, which aims to highlight the government policy of forced destitution.

Destitute asylum seekers are not permitted to work or claim any support so they are prevented from providing for themselves. This means that they are dependent upon charities and friends for housing, money and food and are unable to access education and some healthcare. Asylum seekers can be in this situation for years.

Manesh, 29, former student in electrical engineering, from Iran says 
“I came here to be safe, I had to leave Iran because I was part of a humanitarian political group. I have had no support for over 4 years. I would like to share my skills and contribute to society.
City councillor Ron Stone spoke on the march saying that he wants Bristol and George Ferguson to lead the way in changing the national policy on destitution and to hold a national conference of asylum seekers in Bristol.

Councils in Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield have all passed motions against destitution in the past year. Bristol Mayor George Ferguson said in January,
"We should not tolerate destitution in our city for any reason" 
However, the national policy remains unchanged, charity Bristol Hospitality Network estimate that over 100 people are currently destitute in Bristol alone.

Marching just one week after refugee week, a celebration of all refugees have contributed to the UK. The asylum seekers and their supporters plan to continue working together to build a strong national campaign in order to change the policy that forces them into destitution. 

Asylum seekers stand up against destitution around the Country

A Storify Roundup of all the actions that took place on Saturday 29th June in Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow and Birmingham #dignity2013 #dignitynotdestitution called for by Bristol Dignity for Asylum Seekers 

Monday, 1 July 2013

Report from Bradford Day of Action

About 70 people attended 
a Destitution Day of Action in Bradford
, hearing speeches from 
Nigerian asylum seeker 
, who  has first hand experi
ence of the appalling impact of destitution,  local immigration lawyer Barry Clark, who outlined the injustice of a legal process which forces refused asylum seekers into destitution, and 
Bradford City of Sanctuary chair 
Will Sutcliffe who spoke of some of the practical ways that people can get involved locally to support destitute asylum seekers.

Barry Clark told the T&A "The government should not be using destitution as a means to enforce its harsh immigration and asylum policies, leaving people without food, shelter or the right to work"

In his speech, Will Sutcliffe made reference to the academic report published last year,  'No Return, No Asylum. Destitution as a way of life?' which counted 66 people, including 10 children in Bradford, made destitute after their asylum claims were refused.

The event was part of a national day of action on asylum destitution, with events taking place in cities across the UK.

Support and solidarity from Ireland against destitution.

As well as demonstrations happening all over the UK, the Rossport Solidarity Camp in Ireland  sent us a message of solidarity on Saturday, supporting us in calling for the end of destitution.

The message from Rossport in Ireland:
London No Borders, Klevis Kola, the London Anti-Raids Network, Stop Deportations,  No One IS Illegal campaign and Calais Migrant Solidarity send this message of solidarity in support of Bristol Dignity for Asylum Seekers in their fight against destitution.
Destitution means no housing, no financial support, no right to work, no access to education, limited access to healthcare, and no recognition, only harassment from the state.Governments’ policies on migration are designed to force and trap people into destitution. No one should be destitute.
We support and we are inspired by all those who demand an end to destitution in the face of, and irrespective of attempts to exclude them from society and silence their voices.  We will continue to challenge and resist unjust, degrading and oppressive policies and policy makers. End destitution now!
Bristol Dignity for Asylum Seekers campaign and all others marching today … We stand with you !