Gay asylum seekers sent to Rwanda will be persecuted, attacked and risk ending up in prison, human rights campaigners warn.
Their fears that LGBTQI+ people flown to the country will be in danger have even been reinforced in a study carried out by Priti Patel ’s Home Office.
Activist Aderonke Apata, who fought for 13 years to win asylum in Britain, yesterday blasted government claims there is no “real risk” to gays in the African country.
Nigerian Apata, who runs the African Rainbow Family charity supporting LGBTQI+ people of African heritage and those seeking asylum in the UK, said: “If Rwanda is safe, why do we have Rwandan LGBTQI+ refugees seeking asylum in the UK?
“They tell us they were beaten and became homeless.”
One gay rights activist living in the country said she felt “unsafe” and had been threatened with prison.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch found Rwandan authorities regularly detain, harass and beat gay and transgender people.
Same-sex marriage is banned in the country and trans people cannot legally change their gender.
LGBTQI+ community groups also struggle to register as charities.
Even a Home Office study on Rwanda described its ill-treatment of LGBTQI+ people as “being more than one off ”.
It found “a general lack of societal acceptance” of transgender people.
In an open letter to Ms Patel – who opposed the introduction of same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2013 – Human Rights Watch said it remained “unclear” how the government concluded Rwanda was a safe country.
The Home Office said: “Our assessment concluded LGBT+ people did not face a real risk of persecution. The overall findings were that Rwanda is fundamentally a safe, secure country.”