Urgent: End the Detention of LGBT+ Asylum Seeker Patricia Simeon

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Our friend Patricia is a Sierra Leonian lesbian currently being detained at an immigration removal centre. We fear that her life is at risk if she is forcibly deported to Sierra Leone where LGBTQ+ people are subject to threat, harassment and violence.

That’s why we’re calling on the UK Home Office to release Patricia from detention immediately. She was first detained at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre last week and today was taken to Brook House to meet with the Sierra Leonian embassy - the centre where this year the national press reported abuse and assault against detainees. 

As of the evening of the 23rd October she is back in detention at Yarl’s Wood.

I first met Patricia last year and together we founded LASS (Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield) as she was determined to not just fight for herself but for others LGBTQ+ asylum seeking women in need of support.

It would be a massive loss to our communities if she was forcibly deported.  Patricia has been a joyous presence at multiple LGBTQ+ Pride events during the summer and is incredibly committed to LASS. She is also a member of the Out Aloud LGBTQ+ Choir, African Rainbow Family, Lesbian Immigration Support Group (LISG) and other support groups and churches in both Sheffield and Manchester.

Patricia has been battling the asylum process since 2012 and is working on submitting a fresh asylum claim on the 7th November. She is a victim of trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced child prostitution, torture and faces a continued risk of FGM. Under the Home Office’s own policies Patricia should have never been detained in the first place due to being a victim of torture. UN guidelines state ‘trafficked persons shall not be detained, charged or prosecuted for the illegality of their entry into or residence in countries of transit and destination”. [1]

LGBTQ+ asylum seekers also face increased risks when they are detained including homophobic and transphobic harassment, discrimination and violence from other detainees and members of staff. [2]

Please sign our petition calling on the UK Home Office to release our friend Patricia from detention and to halt any attempts at deportation with immediate effect

[1] UN Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, Principle 7 and Guideline 4 (5)

[2] Stonewall and UKLGIG 

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