After 13 years of failed asylums, Home Office battles and court refusals, Aderonke finally won her legal war to remain in the UK based on her sexuality.
Aderonke is openly and proudly gay.
On paper, her ‘asylum based on sexuality’ should have been a plain sailing stamp of approval since legally you only need to show ‘real risk’ of life if returned to birth country.
Former president Goodluck Jonathan signed a bill in 2014 that criminalised same-sex relationship with up to 14 years in prison, before this gays were never accepted talk-less of now.
However, series of events since Aderonke’ arrival to the UK complicated matters, leading to a High court judge branding her a liar.
So what was Ronke’s story?
According to Aderonke, a Christian, she had just completed her studies when she married a Muslim man in Nigeria.
She had a baby, but amidst suspicion of her sexuality and having a girlfriend she was summoned to Sharia courts, jailed and sentenced to death for adultery.
Bribing her way out of release, she escaped and entered the UK in 2004, claiming twice; first one on arrival, second was after first failed asylum.
Aderonke went underground on the streets of Manchester, using someone else’s name with a false visa to study and work illegally – though she said she paid her taxes.
Caught while working, she was sent to prison, before beign moved as an illegal immigrant to Yarl Wood’s detention camp – to be deportation.
Aderonke became an activist following her negative experience at Yarl Wood.
As a result, she won an award as an LGBT role model, appeared as a guest speaker at the Ministry of Justice’s movement for Justice and created the Gay African Family – a charity supporting African LGBTs.
Amidst these, she rallied support for her removal out of the country back to Nigeria, attracting thousands of signature.
The then Home Secretary, Theresa May, stopped the deportation and the removal appeal battles commenced.
Let the deportation battle commence
Aderonke was refused at least twice by the courts, despite submitting video and photo evidences of sexual acts with girlfriend before this success.
Arguments from Theresa May’s barrister, Mr Bird, were:
- She has a child from a previous heterosexual relationship.
- “You can’t be a heterosexual one day and a lesbian the next day. Just as you can’t change your race,”
- Aderonke ‘has deliberately altered her appearance…to a lesbian stereotype’
- Ms Apata “played the system” by making several different asylum applications
- She could not be trusted because she had been convicted for using false papers to work
Some of the basis of refusal from the High Court Judge were:
- Apata has a history of deception and deceit – false documents, visa, working and escaping – hence could have made it up to claim asylum
- Following a failed asylum in 2012, she had volunteered to be returned home, throwing out the validity of risk plus her girlfriend said she was be willing to go back with her
The case reached the Court of Appeal in 2016 and was dismissed – though Aderonke was granted a temporary stay to allow further claims for asylum based on her sexual identity.
This paved the way to success, Aderonke was granted refugee status with leave to remain on the 1st of August 2017.