Zim refugee forced to show sex pictures to confirm she’s lesbian

Skhumbuzo Khumalo

Skhumbuzo Khumalo

A woman who fled Zimbabwe after she was attacked with boiling water for being gay has revealed the degrading lengths she had to go to in order to be granted asylum in the UK.

Skhumbuzo Khumalo, 24, says she was asked to show intimate pictures of herself with another woman to prove to the immigration authorities that she is lesbian.

“Clearly just by looking at you, they will not judge if you are gay or straight,” she said.

“So they left me in a position where I had to produce intimate photos, which I didn’t feel comfortable sharing.

“The officer began flicking through the photos while I was sat in front of him. It was extremely degrading,” Khumalo explained.

She told the Fixers campaign that she and other LGBT people were attacked by the police at a friend’s house in Zimbabwe.

“A group of police officers forced their way in. Everyone scattered as they began beating us. I was told: ‘You need to be fixed. We’ll kill you. Gay people are demonic and possessed.’

“I saw one of them reach for the teapot, and to my horror, he threw the boiling water over me. I was screaming in agony, it was so painful.”

During a five hour interview with the UK immigration official, Khumalo was also asked if she would be able to hide her sexuality if she returned to another city in Zimbabwe.

“I thought, ‘how can you hide the fact that you love a certain person, it’s ridiculous.’

“When I thought I might be sent back to Zimbabwe, I felt like committing suicide, because me ending my life is better than people back home ending it for me,” she added.

Gay sex and public affection are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. Same-sex marriage is also illegal, as entrenched in the country’s constitution.

Khumalo was eventually granted asylum in the UK, but her story highlights the humiliating experiences faced by many LGBT asylum seekers.

A 2013 report revealed that some gay and lesbian asylum seekers in the UK had been forced to present “photographic and video evidence of highly personal sexual activity to caseworkers, presenting officers and the judiciary” to “prove” their sexuality.

In February 2015, the UK’s Home Office announced that people seeking asylum on the basis of their sexual orientation will no longer be asked sexually explicit questions.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend