Save Eddy Cosmas and stop ‘fast tracking’

Edson Cosmas and friendEddy Cosmas is a 29 year old gay rights activist from Tanzania. Together we can save him from being deported back to Tanzania where he will face a life in jail simply for being gay. He applied for asylum in the UK, but his case was rushed through without receiving a fair hearing. This is referred to as ‘fast tracking’.

Paul Canning runs the website LGBT Asylum News, a detailed database of issues facing LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) asylum seekers all over the world. 38 Degrees asked Paul to give some background about the unfair ‘fast-tracking’ of LGBT asylum seekers, like Eddy Cosmas:

“‘Fast-track’ was introduced over a decade ago. It is all about removing people as quickly as possible because they’re supposed to have no real claim. However, we already know that the vast majority of sexuality-based claims are being rejected. Which means that most people like Eddy are being ‘fast tracked’ out of the country.

In their May report ‘Fast track to despair’, Detention Action said:

“Our research suggests that the Detained Fast Track system is structured to the maximum disadvantage of asylum-seekers at every stage. Conditions and timescales operate to make it impossible for many asylum-seekers to understand or actively engage with the asylum process. Yet this system is entirely unnecessary, as the circumstances it was designed to address no longer exist.”

‘Fast track’ leads to gay men and lesbians who may have been tortured and abused to being automatically detained, often with fellow countrymen or women who continue that abuse. Earlier this year the government rejected a request that because LGBT claims are always complex they, like some other groups should be excluded from ‘fast tracking’.

Because of a shortage of lawyers experienced with gay and lesbian cases, charities like UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) are stretched. The pressure of time in these cases mean the sort of complex work which needs to be done to present, and win a case very often simply does not happen.

Eddy Cosmas is ‘lucky’ because his case has drawn attention. There are many other gay and lesbian asylum seekers whose cases are not known and face being removed to danger. This has already happened, people like Eddy are being returned to dangerous countries like Uganda, Nigeria and Jamaica.

UKLGIG, in their landmark report last year, described the Home Office as “cruel and discriminatory.” Stonewall (a UK charity working for LGBT equality) released a report last year that had 21 recommendations for changes to make to our system to make it fair for gay and lesbian asylum seekers, only three have been addressed. Removing gay and lesbian asylum cases from ‘fast tracking’ would be a real step to address this.”

There’s still time to save Eddy from a life in jail. If we act now and together, we can persuade the Home Secretary, Theresa May, who has the power to stop his deportation. Can you email Theresa May and tell her to stop unfairly rushing Eddy and those like him back to a life of persecution? http://www.38degrees.org.uk/save-edson-cosmas

38 Degrees is teaming up with  All Out, a new global people-powered movement for gay and lesbian rights.

“As a global movement for LGBT equality, we know that sometimes the asylum system is the only way to keep outspoken LGBT people, especially activists and advocates, safe from harm,” says Andre Banks, co-founder of All Out. “Theresa May’s Fast Track is off the rails. The Home Secretary must do justice to the Supreme Court’s ruling by giving Eddy and other LGBT asylum seekers a fair hearing.”
Joseph-Huff Hannon, Campaign Director

Working together, people power saved Kiana Firouz, a lesbian from Iran, who would have faced torture or death if she had been sent home. Please email Theresa May and urge her to stop rushing people like Eddy through the asylum system and stop him being sent back to face persecution and a life in prison: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/save-edson-cosmas