LONDON, England, Monday January 25, 2016 – As hundreds of thousands of desperate would-be immigrants risk their lives to exchange the horrors of war and starvation for a fresh start in Europe, a bisexual asylum seeker from Jamaica has won a three-year battle to remain in the United Kingdom.
Orashia Edwards has been fighting to have his rejected bid overturned ever since a judge ruled that he had been dishonest about his sexuality.
The judge had maintained that Edwards was heterosexual and had just experimented with men, according to an RT News report.
But Edwards argued misconceptions about bisexuality had played a part in his case and he would be in danger if he were to return to Jamaica, where homosexuality is illegal and his case had already received media coverage.
“I think they are prejudiced against bisexual people,” he said. “They say I have choices; that I could choose to be with a woman.
“Maybe if I had lied and said that I was gay things would have been different, but I’m just being honest.”
— YorkshireEveningPost (@LeedsNews) January 21, 2016
Jamaica has strict laws against gays, with sexual activity between men punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Human Rights Watch has detailed violence and discrimination there, with no guarantee of police protection.
According to a new study, the situation in Jamaica is such that three out of four LGBT people want to leave to escape persecution.
Speaking after the decision, Edwards expressed relief: “I’m delighted. For the past three years I’ve had trouble eating, trouble sleeping, problems with depression, but now I can finally move forward with my life.”
During the appeals process, he had felt compelled to take intimate photographs with his partner of two years to prove he was telling the truth.
“It was extremely degrading for me to have to do, and still they didn’t believe me. I’m not a liar, it has taken years for me to be honest with myself about my sexuality and I’m not trying to lie to anyone else,” he said.
Edwards, who was housed in detention for much of the process, will now be able to open a bank account, get a job, and enter education.
Meanwhile, the UK Home Office has been accused of stereotyping and asking intrusive questions of gay and bisexual people seeking asylum.
An investigation in 2014 found that over half of the screening interviews “wrongly contained questioning that went beyond the basics of the asylum claim”.
There were also said to have been incidents of “unnecessarily intrusive questions about sexual activity which went against guidance and training.”
While the UK is legally better for people from the LGBT community compared to Jamaica, they still face violence and homophobia intermittently.
High-profile victims of homophobic crime include award-winning singer Sam Smith, who revealed that he was the target of “gay-bashing” when he first moved to London.
And in 2013, the editor of an online LGBT magazine and his partner were beaten by six men, according to the Independent.