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Nigerian gay rights activist wins UK asylum after 13-year battle

by Hillay Janebdar — Posted on 5 September, 2017

After a long legal fight a gay rights activist has won her UK asylum claim

Asylum claim succeeds

The Home Office has granted refugee status to prominent Nigerian gay rights activist Aderonke Apata, ending a 13-year battle over her right to remain in the UK. Ms Apata said she would continue to speak out in support of people like her trying to navigate the UK asylum system. Aderonke Apata, 50, says she knew she was gay from the age of 16 and was persecuted in Nigeria. She has been recognised internationally for her gay rights work.

Case history

Apata arrived in the UK in 2004 but did not immediately claim asylum on the grounds of her sexuality. Until 2010, lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers were often forcibly removed to their home countries if it was deemed safe for them to “live discreetly”. In 2012 she filed an asylum claim but was considered by the Home Office to be lying about being in a lesbian relationship. Apata appealed, but was told by the judge: “What is believed is that you have presented yourself as a lesbian solely to establish a claim for international protection in an attempt to thwart your removal … It is considered that your actions are not genuine and simply a cynical way of gaining status in the UK.” A new appeal was scheduled for late July. Apata’s legal team gave notice that 11 prominent witnesses would be attending. The Home Office requested an adjournment and then earlier this month sent a letter to Apata saying officials had decided to grant her refugee status.


“I was just crying on the phone with my solicitor when he broke the news to me,” said Apata. “I was singing Great is Thy Faithfulness O God My Father … in my heart at the same time.” She said there had been many dark hours during her battle with the Home Office, such as being kept in solitary confinement for a week in Yarl’s Wood detention centre in October 2012. “I felt dehumanised and demeaned when the Home Office kept saying I was pretending to be a lesbian in order to get asylum. That was such a ridiculous assertion to make about me,” she said. “There are many people like me … who are facing huge insurmountable difficulties navigating the asylum system in the UK. I will continue to do my bit in amplifying the voices of people who can only shout so far.”

How Starck Uberoi can help

Do you need an immigration solicitor to help in your asylum claim. Starck Uberoi’s immigration department has vast experience in dealing with all manner of asylum cases and other immigration issues. To make an appointment call 020 8840 6640.  We are based in Ealing, our office is located 10 minutes from Ealing Broadway Station.

About Hillay Janebdar

Hillay has over 10 years varied experience as a practioner and currently heads the immigration team. She is also experienced in conveyancing matters and deals with both residential and commercial matters as well as being able to provide advice on aspects of family law. Hillay’s fluency in five languages enables her to assist a greater number of clients.