Tag Archives: refugee

Vote for Prossy Kakooza to be a “Homo-Hero” in the LGF’s 2012 nominations

Every year the Lesbian and Gay Foundation here in Manchester ask people to vote for their “homo-heroes”.  A mixture of people and organisations are nominated, and this year we are delighted to see that Prossy Kakooza is one of the top three to have been nominated in the Role Model of the Year category.  Voting is now open online to choose the final winner in each category.

We were heavily involved a few years ago in a successful campaign to keep Prossy in the UK when the government didn’t believe she was a lesbian, or that she’d been ill-treated in Uganda, and was arguing that she’d be safe back in Uganda.  After a massive campaign and excellent legal representation from the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit Prossy was granted status in the UK.

Now Prossy works to help other asylum seekers and refugees in both her day job and also with the Lesbian Immigration Support Group which she helps to run.

You can vote for Prossy – and various other people who are nominated this year – here.  Closing date for votes is 3rd September 2012.

Update – 20th September

Prossy was the winner of the Role Model of the Year award at the Homo Heroes award ceremony on 20th September 2012.  Many congratulations to her!

Prossy Kakooza, fleeing homophobic hatred in Uganda, must be allowed to stay in the UK

The Metropolitan Community Church of Manchester is mounting a campaign to allow Prossy Kakooza to remain in the UK.

See http://www.mccmanchester.co.uk/prossy.htm for full details and links to campaign resources – petition form, letter to Home Office, and posters.

Prossy Kakooza is a 26-year-old woman seeking asylum in the UK. She fled Uganda after suffering vicious sexual, physical and verbal attacks due to her sexual orientation.

Prossy had been forced into an engagement when her family discovered her relationship with the girlfriend she met at university. Both women were marched two miles naked to the police station, where they were locked up. Prossy’s inmates subjected her to gross acts of humiliation. She was violently raped by police officers who taunted her with derogatory comments like ‘’we’ll show you what you’re missing’’ and ‘’you’re only this way because you haven’t met a real man’’. She was also scalded on her thighs with hot meat skewers.

Prossy was eventually taken out of prison after her father bribed the guards. Her family had decided they would sacrifice her instead, believing this would ‘’take the curse away from the family’’. Whilst her family were making arrangements to slaughter her, Prossy managed to flee to the United Kingdom to seek asylum.

When Prossy went for treatment to her local GP’s surgery in the UK they were so shocked by the extent of her injuries they called the police. She was taken to the St. Mary’s Centre in Manchester, and she is still receiving counselling there for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Prossy’s asylum application has been refused by the Home Office, who acknowledge she was brutally raped and burnt because of the medical evidence, but have dismissed these appalling attacks as ‘’the random actions of individuals’’, and state she can be returned to a different town in Uganda. This judgement ignores the clear danger to gay people throughout the country where the penalty for homosexuality is life imprisonment. Also, in Uganda, you cannot settle in a new town without a reference from your previous village, and on the basis she is a lesbian, Prossy would be subjected to similar persecution wherever she went.

We consider that if Prossy is sent back, she faces the continuing threat of incarceration, and further sickening attacks – which next time may be fatal. Prossy is a highly educated woman who can be a productive member of society. She has a right to be free with her sexuality, which is causing no harm to anyone, and she has a right not to be raped, attacked, or murdered.

News Update – 3rd July:

Prossy Kakooza today, 3rd July 2008, won the latest fight in her battle for asylum in the UK.  A senior Immigration Judge dismissed a previous Immigration Tribunal ruling which denied Prossy asylum, calling the judgement “a mess”.

Today’s ruling allows Prossy to present her claim afresh to an Asylum Tribunal.  This hearing is likely to take place in the autumn where Prossy’s claim will be looked at, the possibility of “internal relocation” in Uganda examined and her identity as an out and proud lesbian in the UK considered.

News Update – 5th September:

On Friday 5th September Prossy’s appeal against the Home Office decision to refuse her asylum in the UK was heard at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester.  19 people came with Prossy show support and attend the hearing.  Of these 9 gave evidence in court to support their witness statements.  Prossy’s barrister was extremely well prepared, thorough and forensic in her submissions to court.  The judge will make her decision in the next 10 days and Prossy will be notified of this decision, by the Home Office, in the next three to four weeks.  Please keep both Prossy and the judge in your prayers over the next few weeks.

Web links about Prossy’s case:

Main campaign page – http://www.mccmanchester.co.uk/prossy.htm

Lesbian and Gay Foundation – http://www.lgf.org.uk/news/548/75/

Gay.com – http://365gay.com/Newscon08/05/051408ug.htm

Gays Without Borders – http://gayswithoutborders.wordpress.com/2008/07/04/uk-prossy-kakooza-wins-latest-fight/

Pink News – http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-8219.html

Prossy’s video story in YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/v/H3doJs98PD0

Immigration, asylum and nationality issues handled by Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) – forthcoming address by Hermione McEwen

MCC Manchester is delighted to welcome Hermione McEwen, Senior Solicitor from the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU), as a guest speaker at our worship service at 4pm on Sunday 4th February 2008.

Details of GMIAU can be found at their website http://www.gmiau.org

An article describing Hermione’s work can be viewed at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,200-2260733,00.html

Letter of thanks from Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit for donation

Date: 30th July 2007

To: Metropolitan Community Church of Manchester

Dear Friends

We are writing to extend a huge thank you to all who contributed to the Smartie Tube fundraiser over Lent. The funds you have raised will go directly into our service provision so that members of our client group who need access to legal advice and representation can get it.

Many of you will agree that those in such desperate need should be able to access advice about their legal situation with ease. Sadly that is not the case and the limitations on what we, as publicly funded lawyers, can provide have increased over recent years making it harder than ever to get good quality advice on immigration and asylum law.

Our Drop-In service, jointly funded by the Legal Services Commission and the Local Authorities of Manchester and Tameside, is under threat because the Legal Services Commission no longer want to provide the money for this service. This is one of the main ways in which we provided our service.

Many people who come to see us are prepared to wait from 6 or 7am to be seen. They know that we will review their case papers, advise comprehensively and even throw in a cup of tea during the advice session. If we can take on their case we will, but the Legal Services Commission also limit the public funding for a case by requiring us to prove the merits of the case at the outset rather than allow us to build a case from discussing events with a client, gathering evidence and assessing objective information. This is most difficult to do for those wanting advice about how to make a fresh claim for protection in the UK.

A review of Home Office statistics will show that a significant number of people claiming asylum and human rights protection have their cases refused. The majority go on to appeal against the decision, some with legal representation and others without. The chances of being successful without a lawyer are slim. Even with one, it is an up-hill struggle because of the interpretation of the UK’s obligations under the Refugee and Human Rights Conventions that have come out of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and other higher courts in recent times which bind other Immigration Judges to follow them.

The upshot of all of this is that there is a significant community of so called ’failed asylum seekers’ – men, women and sometimes children stigmatised in our society by this label, branded as unworthy or, worse, as bogus. Such negative language is hard to live with and we see many people clearly affected by how they think people view them. After all they are only human….something our media and our politicians seem to forget.

So how does a ‘failed asylum seeker’ get their case back on track? The Legal Services Commission won’t fund the work on a fresh claim until the merits of the case can be proven. How do we prove the merits of a case if we have no resources to fund the investigative work we need to do – to pick over the case papers to work out what facts have been accepted, assess whether a newly arrived summons or letter from a family member can impact on any negative findings made in the case so far? How do we look at whether a change in the situation in the person’s country of origin would impact on them if they were returned or even assess a person’s case in the light of changes in the law here in the UK? The answer is we do it with the money you raised.

We can provide almost 15 hours of advice for the money you donated. We can use this to review cases that come to us via the Drop-In and we can use the money to support existing cases where we are still investigating the fresh claim our client seeks to make.

We have an existing and growing reputation for fresh claims work. This is a tough area of law to practise in at the best of times but fresh claims work is complex and arduous, yet we do it well and with your support we can now do more. 15 hours of ‘free time’ may not seem much to you but to us it is significant as it means we can undertake research, think about a case, talk to a client, maybe even talk to an expert, and know that we are living up to the expectations of the person we represent and to the set of values and principles which lie at the heart of GMIAU. Your donations have made access to justice a reality for a number of people and we are truly grateful.

Yours sincerely
Beate Dasarathy

Director
Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit