Archive for April, 2010

Tom (Thailand) and Bill (U.S.)

Posted on April 28, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , , |

My name is Bill, and my spouse’s name is Tom. I’m using fictitious names, because I’m afraid Tom will be excluded from visiting the US if Immigration finds out that we have had a relationship for thirteen years, and that we were married in San Francisco in February 2004. You see, I am an American, and Tom is a Thai citizen. US Immigration will consider the fact the we were married as grounds for his exclusion on the basis that he might not intend to leave!

Unable to settle together in the USA, Tom and I have been living together in Thailand for over ten years now. We’ve become part of a local community in the north of the country. We have local families over for a day-long Christmas party every year, we contribute to the local Buddhist temple, and we pay for some students to attend a local grade school and university.

We’re financially well-off. Tom has a successful business exporting Thai handicrafts. I trade plastic parts made in China.

We’re happy in Thailand. We live in a country that has a culture in which our relationship is accepted by folks in cities and rural communities alike. It’s a good life.

There is a cloud over our heads, though. You see, my parents are now in their eighties, and it’s time for Tom and I to go care for them. What can we do? Mom and Dad live in the Midwest. America doesn’t recognize Tom’s right to come with me to care for them. My parents consider him as much a part of our family as I am, but my government considers him a stranger.

If the US recognized same-sex relationships like ours for the purpose of immigration, it would make for stronger families. The current policy keeps families apart for no logical reason. Just because it can, the US government tells me I must choose between the man I have built a life with and the parents who have raised me selflessly.

Religious leaders and politicians who profess to be pro-family should be the first to support America joining other countries who recognize that families come in many flavors, and that love strengthens families, doesn’t destroy them.

America, help keep our family together by allowing couples in committed same-sex relationships the same immigration rights as married couples.

My parents will thank you for it.

This story is located at: http://loveexiles.org/tom_bill.htm

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Claudia (Germany) and I (U.S.)

Posted on April 17, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , |

Claudia and I met over the Internet in 1996. I was in Los Angeles and Claudia was in Bergheim, a little city outside Cologne, Germany. I never thought I would fall in love over the Internet, but it happened. After chatting for hours online, Claudia called me on the phone and invited me to visit her in Germany to go to a Melissa Etheridge concert. I was nervous at first but I accepted her gracious invitation.

The flight from Los Angeles to Frankfurt felt like an eternity! From the instant we saw each other in the airport, it was love at first sight. After meeting in person for the first time it reconfirmed all the feelings we had for each other when we were just communicating over the phone or on the Internet. So begun our love story and as well all the challenges that you face being a binational same sex couple.

After six months of being apart, Claudia got a student visa and was able to move to Los Angeles. Her student visa lasted for three years and then ran out at the beginning of 2000. At this point we were faced with the most difficult decision, whether I should move to Germany or stay in L.A.. The choice was clear to me. There was no way I wanted to end the most important relationship in my life.

Doing extensive research on gay rights in Germany, we discovered that Germany was in the process of giving legal rights to same sex partners. So we packed up all our things (including our cat and dog) and moved to Bergheim. It has been very challenging moving to another country, learning a new language and essentially starting all over again.

In August 2001 Germany passed a law giving gay and lesbians the right to enter into a civil union (or legal partnership) and receive many of the same rights as heterosexual married couples have. We got legally partnered in November of that year. The fact that Germany has legal rights for gay and lesbian couples has made it possible for us to start a life and future together.

We currently have started a massage business together and one of our dreams is to open a gay and lesbian friendly day spa in Cologne.

Claudia and I know how difficult it is to be faced with the challenges of moving to another country, assimilating to a new culture, and figuring our all the laws and regulations that pertain to same sex binational couples. We feel honored to be involved with Love Exiles and we hope that the chapter here in Cologne Germany will bring other binational same sex couples throughout Germany together.

This story is located at: http://loveexiles.org/claudia+lynnette_story.htm

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More On: Prossy Kakooza (Uganda)

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , |

More information on the journey of Prossy has been posted.
This information was originally posted at and pulled from: http://madikazemi.blogspot.com/

Prossy Kakooza.
Saturday, 18 October 2008
Prossy Can Stay!
News from Manchester that Ugandan lesbian Prossy Kakooza has won her battle for asylum in the UK as the judge ruled in her favour and the Home Office are not going to appeal against the judge’s decision.

Prossy issued the following statement: 

Dear friends: I get to stay!! Am still in shock, and am so sure it’s going to take days to sink in. But I have not stopped smiling since 12:00pm today, and won’t stop for a while.

I went with my friend Gwen and am so glad I did because when we left I was in a sort of daze! When this woman handed me the paper and said, “You have been granted leave to remain” my jaw nearly hit the floor. Always the pessimist, I thought this was where she told me “but the Home Office is appealing”. So Iasked if they were and she said no they were not. I had a bit of a hooray shout when we got out – couldn’t contain it.

You have held me together, you have held me upright when all I wanted to do was roll up in a heap and give up. You gave me the motivation to go on and fight! Going with me to places to collect signatures, encouraging people to sign online, coming to meetings, writing statements, going to court with me, and most importantly – all the prayers. And I don’t think you have any idea how the phone calls, texts and emails help. They kept me sane.

There are no appropriate words I can use to say thank you. All I can do is pray to my God to bless you all. You have changed my life and for that I will forever be grateful. THANK YOU!

Lots and lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Prossy

She had received a great deal of support including:

  • 5200 people from countries, and church congregations, from all over the world who have signed her petition to the Home Office asking that she be allowed to stay;
  • 100s of people who have written or emailed the Immigration Minister;
  • the 80 members and friends of MCC Manchester who have supported her with their love, prayers, money and concern;
  • the 19 friends who went to court with her and helped her collect signatures on her petition at Pride festivals all over the country;
  • the ten friends who gave evidence in court on her behalf;
  • Ruth Heatley from the Immigration Aid Unit and barristers Mark Schwenk and Mel Plimmer, the lawyers who drafted and prepared her case.

 

Prossy fled Uganda after being tortured and raped by police officers.

Her family had discovered Prossy and her partner in bed together and had marched them, naked, to the police station where they were detained. Prossy was subjected to horrific sexual attacks and physical torture. She escaped to the UK after her family bribed the guards to release her – as they wanted to deal with their family shame by having Prossy killed.

The Home Office denied her asylum and the original judge believed Prossy’s claim to have been raped and tortured but felt it would be safe to return her to a different part of Uganda.

Prossy won at a hearing on 3rd July. A senior Immigration Judge dismissed a previous Immigration Tribunal ruling which denied Prossy asylum, calling the judgement “a mess”. This ruling allowed Prossy to present her claim afresh.
Posted by Paul Canning

Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Prossy Kakooza news
Prossy’s petition has thus far garnered 4, 508 signatures.

Prossy won at a hearing on 3rd July. A senior Immigration Judge dismissed a previous Immigration Tribunal ruling which denied Prossy asylum, calling the judgement “a mess”.

This ruling allowed Prossy to present her claim afresh to an Asylum Tribunal. This hearing would likely look at the possibility of “internal relocation” in Uganda and examine her identity as an out and proud lesbian in the UK.

So Prossy’s case was presented Friday 5th September at the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Manchester.

A number of Prossy’s friends volunteered to write statements and give evidence in person in court. The case lasted all morning, included evidence from ten people and arguments by the Home Office Presenter and by Prossy’s barrister, the excellent Melanie Plimmer.

The normal practice in the Asylum Tribunals is for the judge to reserve judgement. The Judge must make her decision in the next ten days but it will take three to four weeks before the Home Office let Prossy know this decision. This means that the judgement is issued by post some weeks after the hearing. Sometimes there can be quite a long wait after the hearing to get the judgement.

Please keep Prossy, Ruth, her solicitor, and Melanie, her barrister, in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks.

 Thursday, 3 July 2008
Prossy Kakooza wins latest fight
By Andy Braunston

Ugandan Lesbian Prossy Kakooza today won the latest fight in her battle for asylum in the UK.

A senior immigration judge dismissed a previous Immigration Tribunal ruling, denying Prossy asylum, calling the judgement “a mess”.

Prossy fled Uganda after being tortured and raped by police officers.

Her family had discovered Prossy and her partner in bed together and had marched them, naked, to the police station where they were detained. Prossy was subjected to horrific sexual attacks and physical torture. She escaped to the UK after her family bribed the guards to release her – as they wanted to deal with their family shame by having Prossy killed.

The Home Office denied her asylum but the original judge believed Prossy’s claim to have been raped and tortured but felt it would be safe to return her to a different part of Uganda.

This ignored the facts, and case law, which suggests that someone who has been so mistreated by the state is likely to suffer similar mistreatment in the future.

Today’s ruling allows Prossy to present her claim afresh to an asylum tribunal. This hearing is likely to take place in the autumn where Prossy’s claim will be looked at, the possibility of “internal relocation” in Uganda examined and her identity as an out and proud lesbian in the UK considered.
Posted by Paul Canning

Gay men and women seeking refuge in UK still get rough deal as Rainbow Flag flies on embassies

Over the past week, the UK Government has earned itself considerable praise world-wide after flying ‘Rainbow Flags’ on two embassies in Eastern Europe during Gay Prides in Latvia and Poland.

Yet while the two flags were proudly flying on embassies in Riga and Warsaw, there are gay men and women who are seeking sanctuary in the United Kingdom, having fled their countries under threat of execution or lengthy imprisonment because of their sexuality.

And they are not being given a fair and compassionate hearing.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, headed by David Miliband, should be commended on its work in the LGBT rights field overseas. It’s recently-publish guidelines made a refreshing change.

But while the FCO takes justifiable praise, the Home Office remains, in those immortal words uttered by a Home Secretary of a couple of years ago, “not fit for purpose” when it comes to considering applications for refuge from gay men and women.

Thanks to campaigners, and considerable publicity on his case in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, nineteen year old gay Syrian Jojo Jako Yakobv has had his “day in court” (an immigration appeals tribunal) and has been released from a young offenders centre on orders from the tribunal.

But what was Jojo doing in a young offenders centre in the first place? What “offence” has he committed?

While it is still not certain that he will be granted refuge in the UK, things are looking far more hopeful that they were a month ago.

But for Ugandan lesbian Prossy Kakooza, things are not so good.

She arrived in the UK in July last year, having fled her country after being severely beaten and burned by police purely on the grounds of her sexuality. In addition she was repeatedly raped while in custody.

Such were her injuries that when she sought medical help on arrival in UK doctors were so shocked at the extent of her injuries that the police were called.

Prossy left behind a girlfriend who is still believed to be in detention in Uganda.

The Home Office accepts that Prossy was brutally raped and burned. Yet they want to deport her back to Uganda, saying that she can settle in another town.

But a phone call to the FCO would probably tell the Home Office that there is little freedom of movement in Uganda, as we enjoy in Europe, and that a person wishing to relocate needs what amounts to a “reference” from one’s home town or village.

Meanwhile, Prossy, a 26 year old university educated Ugandan lesbian, lives in fear of deportation, via Yarl’s Wood, to Kampala.

The Metropolitan Community Church in Manchester has started a campaign “Prossy Must Stay”, and her story.

The Home Office certainly needs to answer some questions. Do they ever consult the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about situations in “problem countries” when it comes to matters of sexuality? Do they even read the “situation reports” published by such respected human rights groups as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch?

From judgements and reasons given for deportation to gay and lesbian refugee applicants – not to mention a statement in the House of Lords by a Home Office Minister a few months ago, it would seem doubtful.

UK Gay News has actually heard an immigration appeal tribunal in Birmingham tell a gay Iranian, who fled his country when the ‘religious police’ knocked on the door of his home to arrest him, that he should be returned to Iran where he could make an “application to the British Embassy in the usual way”.

And in another case involving an Iranian, a tribunal questioned the discrepancy in dates on an application and accompanying paperwork, refusing to believe that the calendar used is not the same as used in the West. Application was refused.

There might be very good reason why some applications from refugees are turned down. And it is accepted that this can be a very emotive subject.

But from where UK Gay News stands, it looks as though the Home Office is making decisions, sometimes literally life or death, to hit deportation targets, which in turn pleases the UK tabloids.
At the end of the day, the UK is not ruled by the largely xenophobic and anti-gay tabloid press.

The government should return to the traditional “British way” of compassion based on fairness and forget the emotive and ‘anti’ language of the tabloids.

One can but hope that the lead taken by David Miliband at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is noted – and acted upon – by Jacqui Smith at the Home Office.
Posted by Paul Canning

 Sunday, 8 June 2008
Prossy Kakooza Must Stay

Prossy Kakooza is a 26-year-old woman seeking asylum in the UK. She fled Uganda after suffering vicious sexual, physical and verbal attacks due to her sexual orientation.

Prossy had been forced into an engagement when her family discovered her relationship with the girlfriend she met at university, Leah. Both women were marched two miles naked to the police station, where they were locked up.

Prossy’s inmates subjected her to gross acts of humiliation. She was violently raped by police officers who taunted her with derogatory comments like ‘’we’ll show you what you’re missing’’ and ‘’you’re only this way because you haven’t met a real man’’. She was also scalded on her thighs with hot meat skewers.

Prossy was eventually taken out of prison after her father bribed the guards. Her family had decided they would sacrifice her instead, believing this would ‘’take the curse away from the family’’.

Whilst her family were making arrangements to slaughter her, Prossy managed to flee to the United Kingdom to seek asylum.

When Prossy went for treatment to her local GP’s surgery in the UK they were so shocked by the extent of her injuries they called the police.

She was taken to the St. Mary’s Centre in Manchester, and she is still receiving counselling there for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Prossy’s asylum application has been refused by the Home Office, who acknowledge she was brutally raped and burnt because of the medical evidence, but have dismissed these appalling attacks as ‘’the random actions of individuals’’, and state she can be returned to a different town in Uganda.

This judgement ignores the clear danger to gay people throughout the country where the penalty for homosexuality is life imprisonment.

Also, in Uganda, you cannot settle in a new town without a reference from your previous village, and on the basis she is a lesbian, Prossy would be subjected to similar persecution wherever she went.

We consider that if Prossy is sent back, she faces the continuing threat of incarceration, and further sickening attacks – which next time may be fatal.

Prossy is a highly educated woman who can be a productive member of society.

She has a right to be free with her sexuality, which is causing no harm to anyone, and she has a right not to be raped, attacked, or murdered.

This story is located at: http://madikazemi.blogspot.com/

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Rik (Holland) and Bob (U.S.)

Posted on April 2, 2010. Filed under: Stories - from other sites | Tags: , , , , |

Now that I have been in Holland for nine years, I’ve settled in. I have a good job. As an international lawyer, I was able to expand into new fields that I didn’t even know existed before I came here. Rik has become a judge in the federal court in Rotterdam. We have married each other. We have a beautiful home and many friends. In fact, I have a fuller life here than I could in the US, because of the rights and recognition that Dutch society affords us. You don’t know how many rights you lack, until you get them.

Even so, it hurts that my own country has in some ways fundamentally rejected who I am. It hurts to be a second-class American citizen, deprived of the rights that my heterosexual US friends who live in Holland have. The “defence of marriage act” (which does quite the opposite) means that homophobia is America’s official policy. Because of it, Rik and I can only be tourists, at best, in my own land.

When I celebrated my 50th birthday last year, I started to think vaguely about retirement. I realized that I could never retire to America, close to the rest of my family, together with Rik, because he cannot get a residence visa. Admittedly, this is a something of a luxury problem, not comparable to illness or poverty. But, even so, the country that regards itself as the bastion of liberty has grievously reduced my civil rights. England, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Israel, Australia, South Africa, Canada and other countries have all adopted sane policies toward the legal rights of their gay citizens. Only the US remains in its macho state, forcing hundreds if not thousands of its citizens to live abroad as I must.

I can only hope that wise heads will prevail, and some day let me return home to live there together with Rik.

– Bob

This story is located at: http://loveexiles.org/bob_story.htm

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