A UGANDAN youth worker who fled to Burton to escape persecution because of her sexuality is facing deportation, after she allegedly failed to find support for her bid for asylum.
Lesbian Joan Tumwine claims she will be thrown in prison – and possibly face the death penalty – if she returns to Uganda, where there is a law against homosexuality,
Yet today, the terrified 22-year-old sits in a UK immigration centre, desperately searching for a way to stay in the country so she will not have to board the plane home to face her darkest fears.
Miss Tumwine, who has been in the detention centre since June, told the Mail: “I am gay; I cannot help that. It is what I am.
“I have nobody in Uganda. My family disowned me because my father could not handle the shame that I was gay.
“If I go back, I will be put in prison, where I will be beaten, or I will be killed.”
Miss Tumwine moved to Burton last year, as she found it impossible to continue living in her country.
She was placed with a host family as she took on a job with Burton Youth for Christ, based at the town's Voluntary Services Centre.
She did not tell anyone about her sexuality, as she had been frightened into silence by her experiences in Africa.
"I lived a life of fear all my life in Uganda, so I could not tell people I was gay here. It was in my heart, but I was scared," she added.
Miss Tumwine, who is a Christian, worked with the organisation for 10 months.
It was only when she approached UK Immigration for help that the reason for her UK move was revealed. She believes the revelation led to her deportation.
"They told me they could not trust me with the children and I would have to go. They took me to the airport. They had already packed my bag," she said.
When they arrived at the airport, Miss Tumwine refused to board the plane, and immigration officers became involved.
She is now in a detention centre in Bedfordshire. She said she was still awaiting a fair immigration hearing, as she had been unwell and unable to speak at the last one.
A spokesman for the Home Office confirmed they were actively involved in enforcing Miss Tumwine's removal from the UK.
""The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection and we consider every claim for asylum on its individual merits.
"When someone is found not to need our protection, we expect them to leave the country voluntarily. Where they do not we will seek to enforce their departure," she said, adding that Miss Tumwine had 'no right' to be in the UK.
Youth for Christ has refuted claims it acted on the basis of sexuality. A spokesman said the organisation 'did not discriminate' against any young people.