Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre where Anne is being held. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images.
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The #SaveAnne campaign: trying to stop a lesbian asylum seeker being deported to Uganda

Anne Nassozi, who is currently detained in the Yarl's Wood Immigration Centre, will be deported to Uganda this evening despite the country's anti-gay legislation.

This evening 45-year-old Anne Nassozi will be deported to Uganda on a Kenya Airways flight. Anne - a lesbian - is currently locked up in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Centre following a failed bid for asylum. She has been detained since her arrival in the UK last December. 

In 2013, despite tensions in her native Uganda, Anne used her property to provide a safe haven for gay women. After a brief period of safety, her property was razed to the ground by a mob and some of her tenants were beaten and killed. In order to flee to the UK, Anne had to sell the deeds to her land. If she is deported, her life in Uganda will mean either time behind bars or violence on the streets.

The Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill - previously dubbed the "Kill the Gays bill" by the media before its death penalty clause was dropped - was signed into law by the president, Yoweri Museveni, in February this year. If convicted, a homosexual in Uganda can face a lifetime in prison. The "promotion" of homosexuality alone can lead to seven years in jail or a £24,000 fine. The political and cultural stigma attached to LGBT people in Uganda was made clear last week at a stadium in Kampala, where 30,000 people gathered to praise Museveni for passing the bill.

At the time of writing, Anne’s petition had over 7,000 signatures. One comment on the website read: "I am a lesbian teenager and I feel that we need to make an effort to do more to help people from other countries now that my rights have been recognised. Also it's just decent human rights. I cannot believe we are still having to campaign for things like this."

Anne’s experience highlights the need for a revision in the LGBT asylum process. The UK has a better record than other countries in terms of LGBT asylum seekers, but cases like Anne’s make evident how the government, in reality, has fallen short of its own rhetoric. In Anne’s first asylum interview when she entered the UK, she was afraid to tell officials she was a lesbian. Both of the interpreters in her interview were Ugandan and both were from here tribe. She was concerned that they would share the information with people back in her village.

Anne, and others like her, who by right should be offered asylum in the UK, is being turned away in order to meet a short term and politically motivated arbitrary target on immigration. Theresa May should revoke Anne’s removal directions and offer her shelter in this country, rather than a lifetime behind bars in a country where her sexuality is illegal. Kenya Airways has no legal obligation to deport Anne. Plane operators have previously refused to take deportees: earlier this month, British Airways refused to fly teenager Yashika Bageerathi to Mauritus, following a request from the Home Office. 

On the last recorded phone interview with Anne, she said: "I can’t go back to Uganda because I have nowhere to go... they hate people who are lesbians, they hate gay people."

You can sign the petition here and help prevent the deporation of Anne to Uganda. 

Ashley Cowburn writes about politics and is the winner of the Anthony Howard Award 2014. He tweets @ashcowburn

 

 

Photo: Getty
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The campaign to keep Britain in Europe must be based on hope, not fear

Together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of.

Today the Liberal Democrats launched our national campaign to keep Britain in Europe. With the polls showing the outcome of this referendum is on a knife-edge, our party is determined to play a decisive role in this once in a generation fight. This will not be an easy campaign. But it is one we will relish as the UK's most outward-looking and internationalist party. Together in Europe the UK has delivered peace, created the world’s largest free trade area and given the British people the opportunity to live, work and travel freely across the continent. Now is the time to build on these achievements, not throw them all away.

Already we are hearing fear-mongering from both sides in this heated debate. On the one hand, Ukip and the feuding Leave campaigns have shamelessly seized on the events in Cologne at New Year to claim that British women will be at risk if the UK stays in Europe. On the other, David Cameron claims that the refugees he derides as a "bunch of migrants" in Calais will all descend on the other side of the Channel the minute Britain leaves the EU. The British public deserve better than this. Rather than constant mud-slinging and politicising of the world's biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, we need a frank and honest debate about what is really at stake. Most importantly this should be a positive campaign, one that is fought on hope and not on fear. As we have a seen in Scotland, a referendum won through scare tactics alone risks winning the battle but losing the war.

The voice of business and civil society, from scientists and the police to environmental charities, have a crucial role to play in explaining how being in the EU benefits the British economy and enhances people's everyday lives. All those who believe in Britain's EU membership must not be afraid to speak out and make the positive case why being in Europe makes us more prosperous, stable and secure. Because at its heart this debate is not just about facts and figures, it is about what kind of country we want to be.

The Leave campaigns cannot agree what they believe in. Some want the UK to be an offshore, deregulated tax haven, others advocate a protectionist, mean-hearted country that shuts it doors to the world. As with so many populist movements, from Putin to Trump, they are defined not by what they are for but what they are against. Their failure to come up with a credible vision for our country's future is not patriotic, it is irresponsible.

This leaves the field open to put forward a united vision of Britain's place in Europe and the world. Liberal Democrats are clear what we believe in: an open, inclusive and tolerant nation that stands tall in the world and doesn't hide from it. We are not uncritical of the EU's institutions. Indeed as Liberals, we fiercely believe that power must be devolved to the lowest possible level, empowering communities and individuals wherever possible to make decisions for themselves. But we recognise that staying in Europe is the best way to find the solutions to the problems that don't stop at borders, rather than leaving them to our children and grandchildren. We believe Britain must put itself at the heart of our continent's future and shape a more effective and more accountable Europe, focused on responding to major global challenges we face.

Together in Europe we can build a strong and prosperous future, from pioneering research into life-saving new medicines to tackling climate change and fighting international crime. Together we can provide hope for the desperate and spread the peace we now take for granted to the rest of the world. And together we can show the world a generous, outward-facing Britain we can all be proud of. So if you agree then join the Liberal Democrat campaign today, to remain in together, and to stand up for the type of Britain you think we should be.