Category: Gästbloggar

Who will decide my fate?

Saima1 While growing up, I was more interested in girls’ games, like playing with dolls, girls’ fashion clothes, jewelry and kitchen games. Because of this, my family did not allow me to play outside the house. When I was twelve years old and started playing outside, I realized that other boys were taking sexual interest in me. After the death of my father, I was one day asked by his colleague to meet him at his home for some important work. When I reached there, no one is at home, but him and he started harassing me physically by kissing me on my cheeks and touching my private body parts. After this incident, I was scared and horrified and did not mention anything to my family because they were not open enough to understand this issue. This was like a normal routine for me, all men living and working in my area, especially shopkeepers, were harassing me, when I was outside my home.

First time I was raped, it was done by six boys and one teacher in the school laboratory room. They called me after school hours and asked me to visit them for study purposes. After this incident I was extremely upset and disappointed of my life, and I decided to discuss this issue with a popular transgender from my area. She told me that I am a transsexual and I should wear clothes like girls to avoid this incident in future. I ran away from my house and reached another big city in Pakistan, called Lahore. I went to the red light district called Hera Mandi. The trans women and some other women helped me; and I learned classical dance and other forms of dance. During this time I had contact with my mother by post. One day she wrote in her letter that I should come back to Karachi, because their financial situation was extremely bad. Because of this I came back Karachi and many of my transsexual friends in Lahore helped me to meet other popular transsexual people in Karachi.

There is a system made by transsexual people in Pakistan, that if you want to work as a dancer, you should choose a head called ”Guru” whose work is to assure other men that this person is not a ”man”, he is 100 percent transsexual. During this time I mostly danced in private dance and wedding parties, mostly catering to the upper class of Karachi. But the life had darker parts: one day I was coming back with my other transsexual friends from a huge party where I earned lots of money. The police stopped us and asked us that why we dressed up like women. They put us all in their police van and took us to the police station. There they took all our money and raped us in their houses, which were on the backside of the police station. After that incident I was extremely upset. Later I met my cousin and we fell in love and had a relationship, but I realized that he was very controlling against me. He did not want me to dance in front of other men, and when I danced for money; he abused me mentally and physically, for example by putting out his cigarette on my hand and cutting my skin with a knife blade. He asked me not to wear my clothes, but I cannot live without my transsexual clothes, because I always feel like a woman. I broke up my relation with him. I love my freedom.

After these two incidents, I thought that I was not normal and took help from a general doctor and a psychiatrist and they answered me that it is normal and your genes is different from others’, that’s why you are like this and you don’t need medication. My ex-boyfriend told my father ‘s family members, like my father brothers who live in Waziristan, that I am transsexual and involved in dirty activities. My ex-boyfriend and his brother were also involved in an extremist religious group and they started searching for me. I complained to the police and the inspector told me that he will come to my house and will listen to my problems. At night he came to my place with seven other police officers and beat me and raped me and my other trans friend and cut off my hair and shaved my eye brows. They knew that transsexual people are famous for their hair. My cousin has good contact with different police groups. They told them about my complaint and the attack was a reaction to it. I moved to another city called Hyderabad and lived with my Guru. My ex-boyfriend was searching for me, and one day he asked my close transsexual friend about my address but she refused. Then he send someone who threw acid on her face – so my friend lost her face. It’s difficult for me to live in Pakistan. My Guru gave me the address of an agent. I gave him 8000 dollars to reach Sweden.

I reached Sweden and applied for asylum. In 2010 I had my first interview in TV 4, in which I talked about my problems and also stated that all men in Pakistan are bisexual and also converted myself from Islam to Christianity. After this interview all Pakistani and Afghani community was against me. They attacked me two times and I reported this incident to the police. My second interview in Sweden was done by the RFSL magazine called Kom Ut. After these interviews many in the Pakistan community living in suburbs of Stockholm started campaigns against me, and threatened to kill me because I am against Islam.  They reacted very negatively and I was raped by four Pakistani guys in Stockholm. I reported this incident to the police.

During this time I received three negative decisions from the Migration board and in their decision they did not say anything about my police reports in Sweden. In this extremely bad period of my life I met a guy who is interested in me and understand my feelings. He proposed to me. In Pakistan I always wanted to live like a woman. I accepted his proposal. I married him on 15 september 2012.

In the end of 2012 all of my family members living in suburbs of Stockholm knew about my interviews and my wedding. I did not know that my family members, like nephews, are living in Sweden. I thought they were living somewhere else in Europe. They sent my interviews to Pakistan; and now all of my relatives  think that I should be murdered because I am against Islam. My life is difficult in Sweden and it is impossible for me to live in Pakistan. The migration board again reconsiders my application and will interview me on July 18 2013.

In Pakistan a person in high court Karachi filed case against my ”gay marriage” in Sweden. Family members of mine in Sweden are responsible for this. In Pakistan all media reacted to this news and big newspapers and TV channels covered it. Urdu newspaper Juraat covered my story, followed BBC Urdu, Voice of America, and a Sindi newspaper call Kawish. Many of the United Kingdom newspapers covered my story as well, followed by the Swedish newspaper local.se. In these media reports it was clearly mentioned that Muhammad Yaqoob (which is my legal name) was married to a man in Sweden, and according to a Pakistani law he will be in jail for a minimum of ten years and according to Islamic law he will recieve death penalty. The High court also threatened the president of RFSL, demanding her to stop her support to Muhammad Yaqoob, otherwise she will also risk life imprisonment.

My life is in a very bad condition, I do not know who will decide my fate, Swedish authorities or the state of Pakistan. If I am forced to get back to Pakistan, should I leave my loving husband in Sweden? I am sure that I will be killed by Islamic extremists or family members if I get back to Pakistan, or they will put me in jail for life. Pakistan has a bad security situation, even the Swedish embassy closed its high commission many times in Pakistan for security reason. How can I live in a country, in which there are no current laws respecting LGBT people and they consider us something bad for society and religion? My end will be death.

Saima Khan

Jag sitter med under asylutredningar på Migrationsverket där personen jag företräder ställs frågor som ”Hur kunde du säkert veta att de personer du låg med i ditt hemland verkligen var homosexuella?”

Bild till blogg (2)Det har gått ett år sedan jag skrev min examensuppsats Asylprövningen vid flyktingskap på grund av sexuell läggning. Under ett halvår satt jag i min ensamhet och läste, analyserade och försökte förstå de 80 fall jag hade framför mig – 80 domar från migrationsdomstolarna och till dem lika många avslag från Migrationsverket i ärenden där hbt-personer sökt skydd i Sverige från förföljelse i det land de flytt från.

Jag försökte utröna hur migrationsmyndigheterna tolkar och tillämpar dagens lagstiftning, utlänningslagen 4 kap. 1 §, för att avgöra om en asylsökande på grund av sin sexuella läggning eller könsidentitet och/eller sitt könsuttryck uppfyller kriterierna för att betraktas som flykting och därmed få uppehållstillstånd, eller om personen ska få avslag och därmed utvisas till det land denne flytt från. Bland de asylberättelser till grund för bedömningarna som fanns redovisade i besluten och domarna, fanns ett närmast oöverskådligt antal beskrivningar av fruktansvärda upplevelser i hemlandet. Det var den första delen i ärendena jag läste. Den andra delen bestod av Migrationsverkets eller domstolens argumentation inför dess (livs-)avgörande beslut: att asylsökanden gjort sitt skyddsbehov sannolikt och får asyl, eller avslag: asylsökanden kan återvända till sitt hemland och ska därför utvisas. Följande utgör några få av de 80 fall vars läsning – asylberättelserna och särskilt avslagsmotiveringarna – skulle komma att för alltid förändra min världssyn, tillvaro, och delvis rasera min tilltro till rättssäkerhet och medmänsklighet i asylprövningen.

Två fall rörde kvinnor från Kenya. Den första hade flytt efter att ha bevittnat sin partner brännas inne i deras hus som tänts på av bybor som hotat att döda kvinnorna om de inte avslutade sin relation. Kvinnan gick till polisen berättade vad som hänt. Polisen vidtog inga åtgärder. Hon lyckades fly till Sverige och söka asyl. Migrationsverket ansåg att inget konkret hade hänt henne, förutom de mordhot hon och partnern utsatts för under de tio år de levt tillsammans. Kvinnorna hade besökt en kyrka för att samtala om kvinnors rättigheter i landet. Migrationsverket skrev: ”Trots hoten kunde ni inte acceptera att dölja er sexuella läggning utan valde istället att propagera för era rättigheter”. Kvinnan ansågs inte vara trovärdig eftersom hon lämnat olika uppgifter om huruvida dörren var låst eller inte när hon för Migrationsverket återberättade sitt livs värsta dag när hon kom hem och bevittnade sin partner sedan tio år tillbaka bli innebränd. I avslagsbeslutet skrevs att kvinnan kunde återvända eftersom hon kunde få skydd från trakasserier av den kenyanska polisen. Alltså samma polis som inte vidtagit några åtgärder då hennes partner mördades. Samma myndighet som har en skyldighet att vidta åtgärder mot henne på grund av förbudet i Kenya mot samkönade sexuella relationer.

Den andra kvinnan från Kenya hade kastats ut av sin familj. Hon fick sparken efter att ha kysst en kvinna, utsattes för stenkastning och våldtäktsförsök från militärer. Hon skrev brev till politiker om likabehandling av lesbiska i landet. Migrationsverket ansåg att de problem hon haft i hemlandet ”mestadels berodde på situationer som hon själv skapat.” Hon ansågs inte löpa någon förföljelserisk och hennes asylansökan avslogs. Ett annat fall rörde en man som var känd i Vitryssland för att arbeta för hbt-personers rättigheter, och därför hade utsatts för husrannsakningar, gripits sammanlagt 41 gånger och på polisstationen misshandlats. I Sverige avslogs hans asylansökan. Motiveringen: det rörde sig om enskilda polismän som agerat i egenskap av privatpersoner. Mannen kunde därför återvända till Vitryssland och få skydd av myndigheterna. Om det inte är myndighetsutövning att poliser vidtar husrannsakan, griper någon 41 olika tillfällen och för personen till polisstationen för förhör, vet inte jag som jurist vad myndighetsutövning är. Det jag vet är att i många fall där just myndigheter förföljer hbt-personer argumenterar Migrationsverket och domstolarna för att myndighetspersoner i asylsökandens fall ”agerat som enskilda” mot denne, vilket innebär att personen får avslag och hänvisas till att söka skydd från hemlandsmyndigheterna. Detta sker regelmässigt, även när landets lagstiftning på olika sätt kriminaliserar hbt-personer.

Ett av de första asylärenden där jag själv var ombud, gällde en kille i min egen ålder, Karim från Uganda. När jag träffade honom under Stockholm Pride 2012, hade han fått avslag av Migrationsverket och migrationsdomstolen (Migrationsöverdomstolen hade som vanligt inte beviljat prövningstillstånd). Karim hade själv misshandlats vid flera tillfällen och lyckades fly i samband med att han och hans partner blev påkomna av grannar som tillkallade polis. Partnern sköts ihjäl. Några dagar senare sökte Karim asyl i Sverige och fick samband med detta även beskedet att han var HIV-positiv. Advokaten lämnade in läkarintyg om att han skulle avlida utan bromsmediciner, samt landinformation enligt vilket visar att hbt-personer inte har tillgång till vård i Uganda. Migrationsmyndigheterna ifrågasatte varken detta eller Karims sexuella läggning, fängelsestraffet eller lagförslaget om dödsstraff i Uganda, men ansåg att Karim inte löpte risk för förföljelse och avslog hans asylansökan. Att läsa beslutsfattarnas underskrifter till avslagsmotiveringen var för mig som att läsa en underskrift på och ett godtagande av att asylsökanden kommer att dö vid ett återvändande, och det gör ingen skillnad. Jag har aldrig känt en så intensiv skam över svenska myndigheters agerande, eller en så akut känsla av panik och ilska över att ingen skulle få veta; att han utvisas och att detta skulle bli ytterligare ett sekretessbelagt ärende vars förödande hantering inte kommer till någon annans kännedom.

Nästa person från Uganda som jag var ombud åt hade suttit i fängelse, ”outats” i ugandisk media och var efterlyst. Detta kunde han själv bevisa då han tagit med den tidning som publicerat hans namn och bild. Varken Migrationsverket eller domstolen ifrågasatte detta. I avslagsmotiveringen skrevs dock att han inte var trovärdig, eftersom han inte visste efternamnet på en person han bott med. Som människa och svensk medborgare skäms jag. Som jurist kan jag inte begripa hur en så grundläggande asylrättslig princip som bedömningen av asylsökandens förföljelserisk fullständigt kan underlåtas, och ett avslag baseras på en omständighet som helt saknar relevans för de konkreta skyddsskälen i ärendet. Ett annat avslag som hamnade på mitt bord rörde en ung person från Iran. Migrationsverket och domstolen ifrågasatte varken döds- eller piskstraffet i Iran; att personen utsatts för sexuella övergrepp och hade polisanmälts av sin egen familj. I avslagsmotiveringen ifrågasattes dock att asylsökanden hade våldtagits, eftersom denne inte för Migrationsverket kunde bevisa att förövaren ”känt till sökandens homosexuella läggning.” Migrationsverket ansåg alltså att det inte var trovärdigt att en person i Iran skulle begå en våldtäkt mot någon av samma kön, dessutom minderårig, utan att veta offrets sexuella läggning, eftersom Iran föreskrev dödsstraff för samkönade sexuella handlingar. Förövaren skulle därför sannolikt inte ta en sådan risk som det enligt Migrationsverket måste innebära att våldta någon i Iran utan att veta att denne också är homosexuell. I min inlaga till verket skrev jag att denna typ av resonemang visade på en oerhörd okunskap hos Migrationsverket. Sedan när i Sverige tillämpas ett synsätt enligt vilket begående av en våldtäkt förutsätter att förövaren försäkrar sig om att offret som denne är på väg att våldta, har samma sexuella läggning som förövaren själv? I det ursprungliga avslagsbeslutet till denna asylsökande hänvisades även till att det enligt landrapporten fanns en park i Teheran där homosexuella kunde träffas i smyg om nätterna(…)

Idag arbetar jag som offentligt biträde åt asylsökande hbtq-personer. Jag sitter med under asylutredningar på Migrationsverket där personen jag företräder ställs frågor som ”Hur kunde du säkert veta att de personer du låg med i ditt hemland verkligen var homosexuella?” Jag möter tolkar som inte kan eller vill översätta sökandens berättelse korrekt, som översätter ”könsuttryck” till ”feminist”. Jag möter utredare som ser sökanden i ögonen och talar om att Migrationsverket minsann ”vet hur det ser ut i land X för homosexuella, och det är inte så farligt”. Utredare som därefter citerar land X:s sodomilag; ”fängelsestraff ja, men bara vid samkönat sex på offentlig plats, har ni sex bakom låsta dörrar är det lugnt.” Tillfällen där jag fått avbryta samma utredare och upplysa denne om att något sådant rekvisit inte finns i land X:s sodomilag som jag råkar ha framför mig, utan att lagtexten kriminaliserar specifikt samkönat sex inom den privata sfären. Inför min skriftliga inlaga i ärendet läser jag i UD:s landinformation att det alltid funnits homosexuella i land X, vilket förklaras av att könen hålls åtskilda. Vidare skriver UD att landet visserligen förbjuder sodomi, men homosexuella gester är lagliga. Hedersvåld förekommer, men att en homosexuell skulle hotas av sin familj torde vara ytterst sällsynt. Om en homosexuell utsätts för något, torde den egna familjen vara den första att skydda den homosexuelle. I annat fall kan den homosexuelle enligt UD vända sig till polisen. I land X. Där homosexuella kriminaliseras. Hade detta varit i en annan tidsmässig kontext, kunde jag nästan haft förståelse för den uråldriga missuppfattningen att homosexualitet ”uppstår” om personer av samma kön umgås tillräckligt mycket, eller användandet av begrepp som ”homosexuella gester”, eller den totala avsaknaden av förståelse för vad hedersvåld faktiskt handlar om. Men detta är Sverige 2013, där UD:s rapporter används idag, av migrationsmyndigheter som avgör huruvida asylsökande hbtq-personer ska anses ha skyddsbehov eller om de ska utvisas till det land och den tillvaro de flytt. Så länge detta pågår, kommer jag aldrig att ha ett svar när asylsökande frågar mig varför migrationsmyndigheterna ger dem avslag. Jag kommer aldrig att kunna svara på frågor som ”Varför får jag inte stanna? Inser inte Migrationsverket att jag kommer att dö, som min partner?” Jag kan inte svara, jag kan bara fortsätta skämmas, göra mitt yttersta i enskilda ärenden och arbeta för att verkligheten inte blir sekretessbelagd utan kommer till andras kännedom – myndigheter, politiker, lagstiftare. Under 2013 har en utbildning av hbtq-experter genomförts på Migrationsverket. Några av dem konsulteras i de ärenden jag har i skrivande stund. Min förhoppning är att detta är en början på en förändring, liksom den översyn av lagen jag vill se idag.

Aino Gröndahl

Jurist RFSL

Offentligt biträde åt hbtq-personer

Seven months of waiting

skyddsvärd_sv_tröja_klump#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

”I don’t trust signs anymore. In fact, I am extremely sick and tired proving the obvious for almost three years”

LaetitiaI am a woman with transgender background from Russia. In Russia, I was completely excluded from daily life and functioning in society, because all my identity papers are for someone with a male gender designation and a masculine name, while anatomically, physiologically and socially I am female, and look, behave and am perceived in society as a female. Legally I “do not exist”.

I faced harassment and violence on a daily basis from the general population. I was treated inhumanely in the police station, beaten up and urinated on by the police officers. Also, I tried my very best to get my gender legally recognized, but the only law about gender recognition seems to be non-functional on practice. I escaped to Sweden and applied for asylum in December 2010, because I fear that the violence I have experienced, officially spearheaded by Russian government towards LGBT people, will continue if I return to Russia. Moreover, I am active in the LGBT movement, promoting equality of gender non-conforming people. New Russian legislation hinders my activism to the point that I will face huge fines while being completely excluded from daily life and having no practical possibility to get out of this quicksand. But Swedish Migration Board rejected my asylum application, at first designated me as a “gay male” who can ”live in stealth” in Russia. By deporting me back, Sweden wants to put me in a situation where I can be killed or forced to commit suicide (that legally will be perceived as ”self-inflicted”).

I think, the main problem with the Swedish migration system is that it’s not focused on the most vulnerable groups of people who are in most need of protection, the minorities not only within ”general” society but within already recognized large groups of minorities. According to the local and international public opinion, the asylum policy of Sweden is very ”generous”. According to the statistics, for example, very few individuals with trans or intersex status apply for asylum in Sweden annually. But it’s rarely mentioned anywhere that almost all these individuals are rejected protection, sometimes even in a very mocking or degrading way. Being trans or intersex is hard. Being trans or intersex refugee is harder. But being trans or intersex refugee refused protection, in one of the most ”generous” countries in the world, in all instances… to go through this experience you should be tough, inhumanely tough. Otherwise you won’t survive. Even worse, this all happened due to ignorance, internal prejudices, lack of knowledge, and lack of updated country information. On the other side, there are some positive developments in the Migration Board, like involvement of LGBTI experts in asylum cases. But would it be enough? How much pressure should local and international activists havet o apply in order for the migration system to finally ”get it”? How much suffering should trans or intersex refugees go through? When will the pain end?

Maybe soon, maybe never. On June 26th I had an interview at Migrationsverket Solna about the ”new circumstances” in my case. The interview was conducted in English, I’m very glad about that since I don’t trust the Russian interpreters. It was hard to tell by the officer’s expression and behavior, but I think she paid attention. Also, she asked a lot of questions, maybe this is quite a good sign, but I don’t trust signs anymore. In fact, I am extremely sick and tired proving the obvious for almost three years – that I am a woman born trans, that I don’t exist legally and that I’m in danger. And now, I have been open about everything for quite a long time, I have got nothing to lose. I don’t feel pain anymore, there is just a numb feeling. But, in recent days, also some moral strength since many people are fighting with me right now. The campaign is not finished and will not be finished even in a longer perspective, since I’m not the only one in this situation. I can only express deep gratitude to those who are fighting with me now and who understand, what is it like to be trans in Russia. Remember, I will never keep my voice down and I will never stop.

Laetitia Schteinberg