Ugandan lesbian refugee is free – for now


Judith Twikirize

A Ugandan lesbian woman, who was tortured because of her sexuality, has won a reprieve from being deported from the UK back to her home country.

On Thursday last week, Judith Twikirize, 23, was released from the Yarl’s Wood detention centre after a judicial review of her case was filed, hours before she was set to be flown back to Uganda.

UK officials have refused to believe that Twikirize is a lesbian, and that she was tortured because of her sexuality, despite the evidence of medical experts.

Twikirize says that at age 10, because she was tomboyish, she was taken to a traditional healer to be exorcised. It was determined that the demons that ’cause lesbianism’ would leave if she was cut with razors and forced to sleep in a house of spirits. This went on weekly for a year.

She fears being attacked and persecuted because of her sexuality in Uganda, one of the most homophobic countries in the world.

Activists worldwide mounted an online campaign in an effort to save the young woman, who has participated in a number of gay rights protests in London, from deportation.

As part of the judicial review, her lawyers will be able to present additional evidence in the Upper Tribunal to “prove” her sexual orientation.

“I feel relieved. I’m free a little bit. I feel like the death burden is off my back,” Twikirize told Gay Star News. “When I was at the airport, I felt like I was to going to die anytime. But for now, at least, I’m free.”

The UK has been repeatedly criticised for making it extraordinarily difficult for LGBT asylum seekers to convince officials that they are gay or lesbian. Some refugees have gone so far as submitting sex tapes to the authorities.

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