The Home Office has granted refugee status to a prominent Nigerian LGBT activist, ending a 13-year battle over her right to remain in the UK.
Aderonke Apata, 50, says she knew she was gay from the age of 16 and was persecuted in Nigeria. She has been recognised internationally for her human rights work, and recently received Attitude magazine’s Pride award.
Apata arrived in the UK in 2004 but did not immediately claim asylum on the grounds of her sexuality. Until 2010, lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers were often forcibly removed to their home countries if it was deemed safe for them to “live discreetly”.
In 2012 she filed an asylum claim but was considered by the Home Office to be lying about being in a lesbian relationship. Apata appealed, but was told by the judge: “What is believed is that you have presented yourself as a lesbian solely to establish a claim for international protection in an attempt to thwart your removal … It is considered that your actions are not genuine and simply a cynical way of gaining status in the UK.”
A new appeal was scheduled for late July. Apata’s legal team gave notice that 11 prominent witnesses, including the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and the Lib Dem peer Liz Barker, would be attending. The Home Office requested an adjournment and then earlier this month sent a letter to Apata saying officials had decided to grant her refugee status. Read more via Guardian