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Ugandan woman fears for life if she is deported

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 22, 2014

Joan Tumwine

Joan Tumwine

Comments (5)

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.

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5 comments

  • frustratedresident  |  August 24 2014, 9:23AM

    I can just see the campaign posters now......IF YOUR GAY, YOU CAN STAY..... lol

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  • frustratedresident  |  August 23 2014, 2:11PM

    yeah Ibby I agree with you man.......now roll us another.....cool : )

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  • ibby1978  |  August 22 2014, 5:54PM

    I think this country is really messed up and the way things are going is only going to get much worse. A benefit shake up which has a lot of decent people SHOOK up. Prospects for the 18-25 yr old people is work for about £2.50 an hour on some stupid scheme designed to give a mass of slave labour to massive multinationals making millions of pounds in profit. As if the blind eye on the amount of tax they pay isn't enough. We have a massive drugs and alcohol problem, homelessness is through the roof, literally and border control, well its out of control. But all these issues directly impact who? that's right, the people who haven't got much in the first place. Its disgusting. You aren't even safe in a hospital if you do have a heart attack, they will pull the plug after about an hour. That's how we are repaid after years of working hard and paying our taxes. The future looks incredibly bleak and i'm an optimist. No wonder Brits are packing their things and leaving for these so called dangerous places in the world. Yeah right, we are sick of being screwed and something is going to happen soon that's gonna shake up things i tell ya, something has to give..

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  • bakewell  |  August 22 2014, 5:49PM

    Why is this even a headline? She's an illegal, send her back and the same goes to the other million.

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  • newborough  |  August 22 2014, 4:21PM

    Trouble is if she is allowed to stay it could open the door to thousands from countries like Uganda. All they have to say is I'm gay and maybe executed if I stay in my own country.

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