The Home Office is deporting desperate people to places where they face persecution – often because of colonial-era laws
“My neighbours will put a tyre around my neck and set it on fire.” That is what Rosemary fears will happen if she, a lesbian, is deported by Britain back to Nigeria. She fled her homeland nearly a decade ago after her husband discovered her sexuality and threatened to kill her. She knew she was gay from the age of 12 but, she says: “I come from a culture where you have to get married: my mother threatened to kill herself if I didn’t.”
None of this satisfied the Home Office. It asked her why, if she was gay, she got married, had children and didn’t come out until she’d left the country. Even though she’s an active member of Leicester’s LGBT community, the authorities refused to believe her, and locked her up in Yarl’s Wood detention centre for four months. “It’s a place you wouldn’t wish on your enemy – a place of torture,” she tells me. She is now fighting deportation to Nigeria, a nation that forbids homosexuality, and where surveys suggest that nine out of 10 people oppose same-sex relations.