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Bisexual asylum seeker says UK system is driving him to suicide

Rainbow Rush: Activists say the way the UK government treats LGBTI asylum seekers is a scandal

Bisexual asylum seeker says UK system is driving him to suicide
Vienna Browne with her son Orashia Edwards, pictured centre, his sister Ashema Edwards, far right, and her wife Issy Mangham-Edwards

An asylum seeker and his mother has said the British immigration system has driven him to consider thoughts of suicide.

Orashia Edwards, originally from Jamaica, is in limbo. His case will be reviewed in 2020.

This is just one story of the Rainbow Rush, showing the ineptitude and ignorance of the UK Home Office when dealing with LGBTI asylum seekers.

Asylum seeker’s mental health has taken severe turn, suffering suicidal thoughts

When Orashia Edwards, originally from Jamaica, came to the UK and filed an asylum claim he was rejected.

They delayed to make the decision for five years.

While he was in a relationship with a man, the UK government did not believe him as he was previously married to  a woman.

In the two-and-a-half years since his reprieve, his partner Michael died of a heart attack.

Orashia is now in a relationship with a woman. His mother Vienna fears this fact will be used against him in an upcoming court date.

Both Vienna and Orashia’s mental health has taken severe turns for the worse. Mother and son are being treated for anxiety and suicidal thoughts.

‘With all the stress and trauma we both went through, Orashia’s brain has been blown out,’ Vienna told Gay Star News. .

‘I’m always worried something’s going to happen if he is put on a plane. I can’t settle. I’m always worried fearing I’ve lost him.’

‘Bisexual asylum seekers are treated differently to gay ones’ 

Bisexual flag

Bisexual flag. | mary / Flickr

Allan Briddock, a barrister and trustee of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, has encouraged both mother and son to stay hopeful.

He said he believes because he told the courts he was bisexual in the first instance, being with a woman will not have a detrimental effect on his case.

‘Bisexual asylum seekers are treated differently to gay ones,’ Allan Briddock, a barrister and trustee of the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, added.

‘The Home Office has just about understood there’s such a thing as a gay identity, but just doesn’t understand there’s a bisexual identity.’

In a worldwide investigation published in February, Gay Star News exposed the institutional biphobia that is killing bi asylum seekers around the world.

Rainbow Rush

The UK has recently faced widespread backlash after the Windrush scandal. Around 57,000 people, who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries in the 50s and 60s, were suddenly considered ‘illegal immigrants’. This led to several people facing forced removal from a country they have lived their whole lives.

The Conservative party, in a policy instituted by Prime Minister Theresa May, aimed for an ‘ambitious target’ to deport immigrants in the UK. This scandal then led to the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

LGBTI people are often the worst victims of the asylum system in the UK.

Data shows the Home Office, in the past two years, have turned away two thirds of the 3,535 gay or bi asylum applications. Many of these people have true stories, and are victims of some of the worst personal traumas imaginable. However when they come to the UK, they are treated with suspicion, discrimination and appear to be sent home to fulfil a ‘quota’.

The Home Office has denied claims its practices are prejudiced.

A spokesperson said: ‘The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need it and we do not deport anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality.’

Activists are now calling on the UK government to drastically change the way they operate asylum and ensure people are not returned to homophobic countries.

All this week, Gay Star News will be posting stories about asylum and immigration around the Rainbow Rush scandal. On Thursday, we will post an open letter calling for the UK government to change its stance on LGBTI asylum seekers. 


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