Campaign launched after Home Office detains Sheffield-based lesbian asylum seeker
| Sheffield-based asylum seeker Patricia Simeon.
Thousands have backed a campaign to save a Sheffield-based asylum seeker and human rights campaigner from deportation. Patricia Simeon, 30, fled Sierra Leone in 2012 to escape torture and the threat of female genital mutilation, or FGM.
She made her home in Sheffield and has been a prominent campaigner for the rights of refugees, LGBT+ and faith communities. She founded the Lesbian Asylum Support Sheffield group, known as Lass.
Patricia was initially refused asylum in the UK but is due to submit a new claim based on her sexuality, as well as her past as a victim of trafficking, sexual exploitation and forced child prostitution.
However, on Wednesday she was detained by the Home Office and taken to Yarls Wood Immigration Removal Centre near Bedford.
Those who know Patricia have started a campaign to free her and allow her to make her claim 'without interference'. An online petition already has more than 6,000 signatures.
Patricia at Manchester Pride in 2017.
Lucy Skerratt, from Lass, said: “We are deeply shocked at Patricia’s detention.
"It is incredibly irresponsible and concerning and we demand that she be released immediately.
"Under the Home Office’s own policies Patricia should have never been detained because she is a victim of torture. We are seriously concerned about Patricia’s welfare in detention and her safety should attempts be made to forcibly return her to Sierra Leone.”
Research by campaign group Stonewall and the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group found LGBT+ found detainees often experienced homophobic harassment, discrimination and violence from other detainees and members of staff.
Lucy added: “Patricia attended multiple LGBT+ Pride events throughout the summer and has been incredibly committed to the ongoing success of Lass.
"What’s more as a lesbian asylum seekers she faces increased risks during her detention.”