Staycey's story

Some people may find the topics discussed in this article triggering. This article reflects people’s stories and the hardships they have faced. If you are an LGBTQI+ person seeking asylum and would like to access emotional support please contact us.
A woman with dreadlocks sitting on a colorful couch.

I am from Nigeria, which is a very dangerous place for LGBTQI+ people. Being gay is not accepted there – it’s a taboo, a curse. Society, and the government, are very religious and homophobic. You can get killed. When people in my community found out that I was a lesbian they attacked me; I was almost crushed to death.  

I knew I needed to leave Nigeria and came to the UK around 2006/07. It is much safer for me here. When I first arrived, I didn’t know how the system worked. I wanted to be left alone because I was unsure if I could trust people after what had happened to me. I was scared and in a dark place for years. But it got better when I started socialising and going to LGBT meetings with Many Hands One Heart. I was really relieved to meet people here.  

“I wasn’t sure if I could claim asylum as an LGBTQ person. The Home Office interview was stressful… I was so sad throughout it all. I felt alive but not alive.”

My first experience of claiming asylum wasn’t good. I wasn’t sure if I could claim asylum as an LGBTQI+ person. The Home Office interview was stressful and eventually I was refused. I made several more claims for asylum, and they were all refused. I was so frustrated and miserable. I tried so hard and went all over the place. I went to court in Manchester, and contacted solicitors in Glasgow, and Newcastle. I was so sad throughout it all. I felt like I was alive but not alive. 

I was held in immigration detention once, in Yarl’s Wood, for two months in 2015. It was a nightmare. It’s hard to talk about. After my asylum claim was rejected, they came to my house and told me I had no case and would be detained. Detention is not a good place. It is a deadly experience. You don’t have any freedom; you can’t even see daylight. You don’t know how long you will be there. It could be months or years. It’s a disastrous experience for a person. Everyone in there was scared. 

A woman wearing a jacket.

I really deteriorated while I was detained. My leg was still very damaged and swollen from the attack in Nigeria. I was very ill, but I got no treatment. It is so unhealthy to be in detention. You are always in your room with no sunlight, no fresh air. There are restrictions everywhere. The staff are OK, but they don’t give you good food to eat. No-one comes to check on you; you are left for hours and hours, with rubbish food, and no water. My health just got even worse. 

I asked for help and medical treatment, but no-one responded because no-one cared. So I decided to protest. I needed to say enough is enough. We had no human rights, no voice. We weren’t criminals, we had not committed any crimes – but we were treated like slaves, locked up all day. We weren’t respected as humans. We needed to speak out. We needed the world to know this is not right.  

Detention is not a good place… You don’t know how long you will be there. It could be months or years. It’s a disastrous experience for a person. Everyone in there was scared.”

Not long after the protest they told me I can go home. I didn’t understand. No-one talks to you about your situation. You aren’t supported, nobody tells you when you will be released. I didn’t know if they meant Nigeria or home in the UK. I was scared after the protest they would remove me from the country, but they said I could go home in the UK. I got no warning and wasn’t told why I was released. I had nowhere to go, but luckily I could stay with a friend. 

Immigration detention was a very bad experience, and I worry about being detained again. You are scared for your future. It is such an unhealthy place; it’s a disaster for your life. It’s not good for anyone, ever. It feels like it’s killing you. 

A woman with dreadlocks standing in front of a rainbow colored building.

LGBTQI+ people are not safe in immigration detention. Being detained is unjust and inhumane, and LGBTQI+ people are particularly at risk of harm.

Join our No Pride In Detention campaign today, and help us call for an end to LGBTQI+ detention and for a time limit on all detention. 

Read more and take action here.

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