Aderonke Apata is a Nigerian activist – an activist for LGBT rights, asylum rights, human rights. Aderonke is a lesbian, which means her life would be in danger if she were forced to return to Nigeria. For this reason, Aderonke claimed asylum in the UK, to be protected to live her life freely and openly with her partner and to carry on fighting for people’s rights.
Growing up in Nigeria, I was unable to disclose my sexuality, yet unable to hide it.
The culture in Nigeria makes it clear that being gay or transgender is a sin, a sentiment that is fueled by homophobic messages from faith communities, political leaders, families, and schools.
I took these messages in, identified with them, and carried the shame of being a lesbian woman in Nigeria.
After graduating from University, I was arrested, tortured and extorted by the Nigerian Police. I was forced to endure the murder of three members of my family, who were killed because of my religion. My girlfriend of 20 years was killed because of my sexuality.
After a false allegation of adultery, I was sentenced to death by stoning by the “Sharia” Court.
It was then that I fled for my life.
Now, I am under threat of deportation in the UK, at risk of being sent back to a country that just passed an anti-gay law that would send me to prison for 14 years. I feel I will receive that sentence only if I am able to keep my life.
The Home Office and the courts have so far refused to grant Aderonke sanctuary – despite all the evidence she has provided of her sexuality (and the risk to Nigerian lesbians is not in doubt). After a long wait, Aderonke finally has a judicial review hearing to establish her need for protection in the UK under the Refugee Convention.
Join Aderonke in solidarity outside the Royal Courts of Justice on 3 March.
Aderonke’s judicial review hearing is listed for 9am at the Royal Courts of Justice, on the Strand in London (WC2A 2LL) on Tuesday 3 March 2015.