Looking after all our own

BCN 126 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 126, August 2014

The main debate forum at this year’s BiCon heard about a local asylum seeker, Orashia Edwards, who has been told by the courts that they don’t believe he’s bisexual and so will return him to Jamaica.  At the time of going to press he is still in the UK.

I found the Decision Making Plenary at BiCon quite emotionally charged: we spoke about a bisexual man who lived in Leeds and who was held in detention and at risk of being deported to a place of danger to him because of his sexuality.

I’m no expert but I understand that current UK laws should work to protect bisexuals in danger and seeking asylum so I feel I am mainly arguing for the systems to work properly and not in a discriminatory way. I don’t think I’m arguing for better laws in this case. If I were working for a voluntary agency I would try to maximise the life chances of a client and would want them to know if I believed they would get safer passage by claiming to be gay.

I think the UK should do what international laws we officially accept say: we offer asylum to those in genuine need. The statutory services involved should be following guidance so as not to illegally discriminate against someone for being bisexual. If they are not following their own rules they should be receptive to official complaint and then subject to civil service or parliamentary oversight or even legal action.

Us and others caring loudly in the right ears I think will help this actually happen. I don’t want to just argue for people most like me: I want asylum available as needed. I do want to argue for people like me when others do not and we can stand together. Let’s be careful not to step on others when we do so. I’m also aware it can be easier for us to attack each other or beat ourselves up rather than dealing with bigger enemies. Let’s try to not do that either.

That’s all good channeling of anger into letter writing but I’m still a bit emotional:

Many of us want the bi community to appeal all bisexuals. Most of them are likely to be more in the mainstream than some of us are. I see so much popular rhetoric, often racist, about border control, voluntary immigration and asylum and the conflation of the two. The bi community isn’t my own private club so I guess I should expect to deal with this anti-immigrant stuff within a wider bi community. That feels scary and sad but also important to do.

Grant Denkinson