Kathmandu (Pahichan) January 23 A bisexual asylum seeker who said he feared he would be killed if he was deported to his native Jamaica has been granted the right to remain in the UK after a three-and-a-half-year legal battle with the Home Office.
Orashia Edwards, who lives in Leeds, had his claim for asylum rejected after a judge ruled he had been “dishonest” about his sexuality. But Edwards, who was in a relationship with a man through much of his subsequent appeal, argued that he was treated unfairly because of misconceptions about bisexuality and that widespread media coverage of his case in Jamaica would endanger his life.
Reacting to the confirmation of his refugee status, Edwards, 33, said: “I’m delighted. For the past three years I’ve had trouble eating, trouble sleeping, problems with depression, but now I can finally move forward with my life.
“It’s a huge relief to me, to my mother, to my friends and supporters. I would never have made it without their support, I’m just so thankful to all of them.”
He added that he would now be able to open a bank account, apply for jobs and enrol to do a college course in electrical engineering.
Edwards, who was repeatedly detained during the resolution of his asylum claim, said he had provided intimate pictures of himself with another man to support his claim, but that officials had refused to acknowledge them as evidence of his sexuality.
Sexual activity between men remains illegal in Jamaica, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. In 2014 the organisation Human Rights Watch found that LGBT people in the country faced “unchecked” violence and discrimination and could not depend on police for protection.
The group Leeds No Borders, which supported Edwards in his case, said LGBT people continued to face difficulties seeking refuge in the UK. “Whilse we are celebrating, it’s in the knowledge that the asylum process in general and especially for people seeking asylum on sexuality grounds, is completely flawed,” it said in a statement.
“Despite the Home Office claiming that the process has improved, it still involves years of waiting, extremely intrusive questioning and a culture of disbelief. Almost 98% of LGBT asylum seekers are rejected first time around, and the massive cuts to legal aid mean people are left vulnerable with little or no access to representation.”
Source : The Guardian