A British immigration court has denied a bisexual Jamaican man's request for asylum, ordering him to return to his home country, where he says he will face persecution because of his sexual orientation. He is scheduled for deportation from the United Kingdom to Jamaica on July 2.
Orashia Edwards, 32, lost his lengthy legal battle with the United Kingdom's Home Office when he was denied asylum on the basis of his sexuality Tuesday. The court concluded that Edwards was “dishonest” about his sexuality, apparently not believing that Edwards was actually bisexual.
Although the court did not release any official documentation about why it found his sexual orientation "dishonest," Edwards does have a newborn daughter in Leeds, where he has reportedly been residing for the past 14 years.
Outside of the courtroom, the scene was tearful as family and friends expressed outrage at the decision.
"What they are doing is they are sending my son to die, and I will never forgive them for that," Edwards' mother told ITV.com. "I will never forgive this government for that."
Leeds for Change, an organization that campaigns on behalf of LGBT asylum-seekers, staged protests earlier this year, started an online petition — which garnered nearly 1,000 signatures — hoping to interrupt his deportation, and successfully got a flight cancelled that was meant to deport Edwards last January. The activist group is looking to obtain a similar outcome for the British Airways flight scheduled to deport Edwards tomorrow, asking followers to call, tweet, and email the airline and ask that it cancel his flight.
Leeds for Change says its was “appalled by the Judge’s decision today which leaves our friend Orashia Edwards at risk of deportation to Jamaica where his life will be in grave danger," according to a press release. "We won’t stop fighting for Orashia to stay here in Leeds with us, his family and the LGBT community. An application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Orashia will be issued shortly.”
The organization alleges that the Home Office decisions behind who is granted asylum have been prejudiced, noting “Orashia is one of the 98-99% of LGB asylum seekers whose claims are rejected by the Home Office and who face being returned to the threat of homophobic violence. This shows systematic discrimination when compared with 76% refusal of all applications, and points to the need for a total overhaul of Home Office procedure in deciding these claims.”
The Home Office has denied claims that its asylum decisions are prejudiced.
Before appearing before an immigration judge today, Edwards spoke with a documentary crew that has been following his journey for the forthcoming State of Limbo. In a segment released today called "Judgment Day," Edwards explains his frustration in people's belief that his bisexuality means he can just “choose” to be with a man or a woman. His hope, he said, was to stay in a place where he felt safe, and where he could be open about his sexual orientation.