King, a young woman who fled persecution in her homeland, has said she is alarmed after the former Home Secretary claimed being gay or a woman facing discrimination isn't enough to grant asylum.
I am a young woman from a country that still openly persecutes LGBTQI+ people.
I have been through considerable trauma and horrific abuses and had to flee my home in Asia. I’ve been in the UK for over 5 years, and I have received so much support from charitable organisations like Freedom from Torture.
Working with me on my road to recovery, they have helped me to regain some of my confidence and guided me to look at the world in a more positive light, rather than in darkness and despair. As a refugee myself, I feel very strongly about people having the chance to find safety and sanctuary in another country, just like I have.
Not having to conform or be ruled by fear has given me the freedom to find my voice, no longer afraid to express who I am, which has provided me with a platform for my writing, poetry and artwork.
Some of the opportunities I have had in the UK have been really amazing, like joining my first Pride March. For the first time in my life, I have the freedom to express myself without the threat of persecution.
It’s almost impossible to describe how it felt to openly, and safely, celebrate and support people from a community that is routinely abused where I come from. When I carried my placard “LOVE should never mean having to live in Fear” I was surprised by how many positive comments I received.
There was so much love and acceptance. Having a chance to take to the streets on these marches made me feel empowered. I will never forget how it felt to be surrounded by people who were so positive and so welcoming to everyone, no matter where we came from or what we looked like.
Not having to conform or be ruled by fear has given me the freedom to find my voice, no longer afraid to express who I am, which has provided me with a platform for my writing, poetry and artwork. It makes me feel incredibly sad that other survivors and refugees are finding it much harder to have the same opportunities and support that I am receiving. I have only recently become aware of the many anti-refugee policies of this government, and it has been a steep learning curve for me.
Being a refugee in the UK and seeing the hostility this government has towards people like me, people who have fled the worst possible abuses you could imagine, can sometimes take its toll and I find it hard to stay hopeful.
I was so incredibly saddened to hear of the former Home Secretary’s speech about LGBTQI+ people and women. It feels like all my fear, like a noose around my neck, is once again tightening. I’m not only scared for myself, but for other refugees who face the very real threat of being returned to unbearable imprisonment, persecution, and in some cases even death sentences.
These comments just show a complete lack of compassion and understanding by the current UK government. It’s time for politicians to understand the very real consequences of the words they say and the policies they enforce.
The actions of this government have only made vulnerable people more fearful and less trusting. Many of us are already traumatised, and these punitive actions make an already challenging recovery process much harder.
Since I’ve been in the UK, I have found people welcoming and so understanding of what I’ve been through. British people have opened their homes to Ukrainians fleeing war and Afghans fleeing persecution, it’s clear that the will of the people is very different to what the government is saying and doing.
It’s time for politicians to understand the very real consequences of the words they say and the policies they enforce.
I’ve seen that the real problems in this country are that people are struggling to pay their bills, feed their families, or access proper health care. Instead of sorting out these issues, the government continues to distract us by demonising and scapegoating refugees.
The NHS is not on its knees because of people like me. It’s frustrating to see the politicians in charge blaming refugees when it’s their own mess. They’ve run the asylum system into the ground and created an unforgivable backlog of decisions, leaving people stuck in limbo waiting endlessly for a decision on their claims, all the while trapped in awful and unsafe accommodation.
Instead, refugees should be offered sanctuary so that they can recover and rebuild their lives in safety and as members of our communities. Being able to work would no doubt help my mental health and general wellbeing.
It’s time for the government to U-turn on their horrendous anti-refugee policies and instead, welcome people like me who’ve fled torture and violence. All we want is a chance to rebuild our lives, contribute to society in safety and be part of a community.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the following charities who have supported me through difficult times:
- Freedom from Torture
- Rainbow Migration
- Changing Lives
- Newcastle Hospital Charity - Newcastle Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- West End Refugee Service