A bisexual man from Jamaica who was denied asylum because the United Kingdom’s Home Office believes he is lying about his sexuality has been granted a reprieve, but his future remains uncertain.
The Home Office declared that Orashia Edwards, who is thirty-two, has been “dishonest” with them about his orientation. They gave no explanation regarding how they came to their conclusion. Though Edwards’ flight back to Jamaica was canceled in the eleventh hour, because he still does not have refugee status he could be detained or deported at any time.
The media attention around Edwards has also proved to be a double-edged sword. Though public awareness of his case has led to support, including petitions demanding change and fundraisers for his legal fees, should the efforts to keep him in the UK fail, they also increase the likelihood that he would be subjected to discrimination and violence related to his orientation if returned to Jamaica.
Edwards’ case also highlights some of the most severe concerns about the issues that gay and bisexual asylum seekers face. Although the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared that they cannot be ordered to simply be “discreet” in their countries of origin, judges in the system have effectively been asking asylum seekers to prove they qualify as “gay enough” to deserve sanctuary. In a culture where people are assumed to be either gay or straight, it’s a requirement that bisexual refugees are especially unlikely to be able to satisfy.
In January 2014, a post on the Free Movement blog exposed a number of questions transcribed from an “interview” with a bisexual asylum seeker in detention, during which “no lawyer was present at any point.”
The Northern Film School produced a short documentary on Edwards for Leeds No Borders, titled “State of Limbo.” Watch below: