The longest seven months of my life. Seven months with anxiety, fear and confusion. It is the best way to summarize what I experience right now on a daily basis. Some days are better than others. Now that it’s summer, I guess all I can celebrate is the sun as I am uncertain about my future here in Sweden.
The asylum process is a hard period of my life, as waiting has become the order of the day. I am grateful that I didn’t have to go to a migration shelter where I hear of horrible experiences from colleagues who are there. After my visit to Solna waiting to be sent to a migration shelter, colleagues in Stockholm offered to assist me with a place to stay. Thus I have stayed in 15 different places to date.
For more than half a year life has been at a standstill, stagnant as almost everything is dependant upon the Migration Board’s decision on whether we can stay in Sweden or not.
I almost got an interview in May but unfortunately it was short lived owing to some challenges with the interpreter who was not well versed in LGBT issues and as a result was misinterpreting some things during the process. My lawyer who was present during the interview had to interject on several occasions reminding and explaining to the interpreter, and it ended up being more of a misinterpretation session with many things that I was saying being lost in translation. Hence the request by my lawyer to stop the interview and find an interpreter who was at least conscious of LGBT issues and not a “misinterpreter”.
More so it is also heart breaking that, as a trans person in the asylum process, there is also an infringement of my rights. I still have to conform to a pronoun and name I am not comfortable with on my “LMA kort”, the temporary identity card given to all asylum seekers in Sweden.
Now I will have my first interview again in July. By then it will be my 8th waiting month in Sweden.
My name is Sean* I am a transgender person, I am an LGBT rights activist from a Southern African country. I came to Sweden in December 2012.
The problems that led me to the situation I am in today was prompted by incessant police attacks on my organisation owing to the work that we were doing advocating for LGBT rights. A major raid saw many members attending an organisational meeting being arrested. Heavily armed and violent police stormed the organisation premises and arbitrarily beat us.
After being exposed to beatings, parading in the police station, strip searches and being forced to reveal all personal details by different police officers during our incarceration, police developed a keen interest in my partner and me. The police had infiltrated the group, as people were vulnerable. Police also established that my partner and I were a couple living together and that we had positions in this organisation. Although police were targeting to arrest all leading or staff of the organisation, we became the easy target as they had all our personal details.
For highlighting LGBT rights violations in a report, which were mostly perpetrated by police, I also became a target as police felt exposed. Thus the second raid on the organisation and confiscation of computers and materials in search of this sensitive information. This was followed by constant home and work place visits with the state security operatives now demanding that my partner and me report to the station for questioning. Acting on advice from a human rights lawyer we did not report, as the operatives are synonymous with violence, detentions, murders, kidnapping of activists. During the period we had to live in hiding, and seize operations from work as police surveillance continued. Security operatives continued to places we frequented inquiring about us. Our whole lives were exposed to police, as they knew were we stayed, worked, frequented. Family details, car registration, and even school.
During my visit to Sweden my family home was violently attacked by youth militia group. As if that weren’t enough the operatives visits to our home and family home ensued.
As a person at the forefront of the LGBT movement in a country in which not only your work is criminalised but your existence too, life is a hellhole. The president spews homophobic vitriol at any given opportunity. Joining the homophobic bandwagon are religious and traditional leaders, politicians and the media. The environment is volatile at both professional and personal level. Every attempt at increasing LGBT rights visibility awakens hostility.
We find ourselves between a rock and a hard place as we are under threat left, right and centre. In our home country we not only face violence from a vigilante group but from the uniformed forces who continue to inquire about us. They say fear breeds misery, well for us it’s the same tune as we are gripped by fear of both the impending danger should we be returned to my home country and of the unknown decision by the Migration Board.
”Sean”, skriver under pseudonym