*Content note – outline of violent homophobic oppression*
Around twenty-five supporters of Aderonke Apata rallied in Liverpool, before handing over a petition bearing 24,000 signatures demanding that Home Secretary Theresa May allows the Nigerian-born LGBTQI activist and human rights campaigner to remain in the UK. The Liverpool event was held in conjunction with another which was taking place in London.
Aderonke could face deportation back to Nigeria, where – as an out lesbian and an activist – she fears for her life. Before coming to Britain ten years ago, she was sentenced to death by stoning in her home country, and family members were murdered for her sexual orientation. She believes that forty years’ imprisonment is her fate there if she is not killed outright. Her partner Happiness Agboro – who has leave to remain here – bears the scars from a beating inflicted on her by a mob who found out that she was a lesbian. The UK Border Agency claim that she has not done enough to ‘prove’ that she is gay despite having many friends and family testify for her, including lovers.
Theresa May has recently ordered a review of how the immigration authorities deal with LGBTQI people, after evidence came to light that people were resorting to shooting intimate videos of themselves with partners in an attempt to prove their sexual orientation. However, Aderonke still faces a High Court review of her own case next Tuesday, 15th April.
The Liverpool march assembled at Lime Street train station, and made its way through busy shopping areas to the United Kingdom Border Agency building on Union Street. There we were met by a patronising and frequently deceitful reception from UKBA staff, who refused to take possession of the petition, and refused us entry to the building.
After over an hour of messing about from the staff, the allegedly impossible happened, and a senior official came downstairs to accept the petition. Happiness was pleased with the result, and we headed off.