Going back to Jamaica would have meant death (Gay Times UK)
Orashia was released from Morton Hall detention centre where he was taken over a month ago. Inside detention he allegedly received death threats because of his sexuality.
He was being held there because an asylum tribunal refused to accept that he was bisexual.
Speaking to the Guardian from dentition, Orashia accused the Home Office of handling his case unjustly. The tribunal rejected his claim that he had been in a relationship with a man in Antigua.
“They said I was lying about my sexuality because I couldn’t remember details of the relationship.”
“I couldn’t tell them his date of birth, all I could remember was his star sign. He wrote a letter confirming that we had been in a relationship, but they refused to believe that we had been more than friends.”
Orashia said he is “relieved to be back home with friends and family and hopes his asylum claim will be granted soon”
The UK's Guardian reported:
Immigration authorities have cancelled the deportation flight of a Jamaican asylum seeker who faced removal from the UK after the Home Office refused to accept he was bisexual.
Orashia Edwards, 34, had been held at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincolnshire after being detained during a scheduled meeting with immigration officials. His family were told he could be deported at any time from 5 May, but Edwards was instead detained for nearly a month before being released pending a further appeal against his rejected claim for refugee status – the latest in a series of prolonged periods in detention.
He has been involved in a protracted battle with the Home Office after an asylum tribunal rejected his application, saying that he had been dishonest about his sexuality. But Edwards criticised the decision, claiming he had been the victim of institutional bias because of his sexuality.
“I think they are prejudiced against bisexual people,” Edwards 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. For years I was in denial about my sexuality, it took me so long to be honest with myself – I like men and I like women.”
Edwards’s asylum tribunal also alleged that while he had been sexually active with men, he had been “experimenting” with his orientation and was in fact heterosexual – an argument dismissed by bisexual activists as a common discriminatory trope.
“I’ve been in relationships with men and women since 2003,” Edwards said. “If I had been experimenting then maybe I would have slept with a man once and never gone back, but I’m bisexual, it’s who I am.”
He added that he believed his life would be at risk if he returned to Jamaica, where violence against gay, lesbian and bisexual people is widespread and sexual activity between men remains illegal under the country’s anti-sodomy laws.
“I won’t survive if I go back,” Edwards said. “The media coverage of my case means that my picture and my story are all over the Jamaican media. Once you are perceived as homosexual or bisexual you are branded for the rest of your life.
“Even while I was in detention, the other Jamaicans there were saying that they could go back, but I couldn’t. It just wouldn’t be possible for me. I think that the Home Office staff are trained to reject anything they’re told. I’ve given them all the proof I can of my sexuality and they still refuse to believe me. I don’t know what more I could do.”
Edwards had submitted intimate pictures of himself with another man to support his case for refugee status, a practice that campaign groups have criticised as an example of endemic mistreatment of LGBT people in the asylum system.
Edwards’s partner, Michael Mardel, echoed his allegation of prejudice on the part of the Home Office and insisted he had not been dishonest about his sexuality. He said: “I’ve known Orashia for over two years, and to put it bluntly there is absolutely a sexual element to our relationship.
“Orashia has stayed the night at my house. He is absolutely not lying about his attraction to men. Our families have also become close, we have a genuine relationship. I think that the Home Office doesn’t understand the concept of bisexuality. They seem to think that you have to be one thing or the other, they don’t seem to accept that you can be attracted to both genders and that it’s not an either/or thing for everybody.”
Edwards’s mother, Vienna Brown, said she was overjoyed at her son’s release, but added that she remained nervous about the eventual outcome of his case. “I got an email from Orashia’s solicitor saying that he was going to be released, but it wasn’t until I heard the knock at the door and opened it and saw him there that I really believed it,” she said.
“I just fell to the ground and thanked God, because I’ve prayed so hard to have my son back with me. I’ve hardly slept since he was detained. I just hope that this will lead to more good news and that he’ll be allowed to stay in this country with his family and his friends.”
Edwards will bring an appeal against the rejection of his asylum claim, on 17 June. The Home Office has previously stated that it does not normally comment on individual asylum cases.