A Malawian man who Malawi24 has only identified as Hopeson living in United Kingdom (UK) has been denied asylum in the UK and has been detained for a month for being gay, Malawi24 can reveal.
Despite its reputation as one of the most progressive countries, increasing numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender (LGBT) asylum-seekers, upon arrival, are detained indefinitely by the Home Office, the ministerial department responsible for immigration and security.
Hopeson is detained at Campsfield Detention Centre in the UK and is facing possible deportation after being refused asylum. He has lived in the country for two years waiting to be granted asylum due to his sexual orientation which remains a punishable offence in Malawi.
“I was detained when I went to do a routine report at the police station while my application for asylum was being considered. I have since been in detention for over a month and I am depressed now. My claim for asylum was refused because they say my case is not provable that I am gay. I appreciate that other countries and human rights activists are speaking in support of our cause and one place that we feel safe and secure is here in the UK and other countries that have accepted,” said the victim.
He further expressed dissatisfaction with the way his matter is being handled.
He told this publication that while still in detention, a gay couple Kelvin Gonani and Cuthbert Kulemera, were arrested and they got support from many angles including high government officials and parliamentarians in the UK and other parts of the world.
He explained to this reporter that all this support came without trying in any way to prove if all those who got arrested were indeed gay or not.
“I must say that it is doubling the pain to be doubted and suspected of trying to use my sexual orientation to gain asylum. Sometimes it is difficult to prove who you are when others are in doubt of who you are. I see that home is still not safe for us considering that even politicians are now baying for our blood.
“I still have hope and remain optimistic that we are going to win this battle for our rights and I encourage all those that are of my creation not to relent but to soldier on with optimism and hope that one day the eyes of everyone shall be opened that we shall be accepted everywhere in the world just like everyone else without being doubted that you are what you say you are.”
He added: “It’s painful; I want to urge you to soldier on. As for me, a place where people who are supposed to protect us bay for our blood simply because they themselves are of a different orientation cannot be my home.”
Despite having committed no crime, LGBT asylum-seekers are effectively imprisoned in detention centres where there have been reports of verbal bullying, physical violence, and sexual assault.
While they wait for the Home Office to reach a decision in their cases, they are restricted from access to online information that could help their cases.
According to critics, “One of the main problems that LGBT people face in the UK and across the region is having to ‘prove’ their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
They are subjected to a highly accelerated process, and they have a couple of days to prove to the government that they are what they say they are.
Unfortunately for them there is no test they can take medical or otherwise to prove they are gay.
Just recently, the donor community pounced on the Peter Mutharika government to release two, Cuthbert Kulemela, 19, and Kelvin Gonani, 39, were reportedly netted when they were romping each other at area 25 in Lilongwe,
It still remains cloudy as what the Malawi government will do.
As we went to press, the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Malawi was yet to respond on what government will do on the matter.
There has been a heated debate lately on whether Malawi should legalize homosexuality with all concerned stakeholders sticking to conflicting stands.
[ Malawi24 will keep you update on this matter]
*Additional reporting by Joseph Dumbula.