(Photo: Courtesy Facebook)
The brother of a 22-year-old lesbian woman living in the U.K. is pleading for immigration officials to stall her impending deportation to Jamaica, where he says she will likely be killed for her sexual orientation.
Coletane Lopez has been in a detention center since last Tuesday when British immigration officials denied her application for asylum. According to a Facebook page created to support her release, Lopez has been denied legal representation and has now begun a hunger strike to bring attention to her plight.
“We’ve got terrorists here that are making suicide bombs. They’ve been in prison, they come out and they can’t deport them because of human rights. What about her human rights? That’s the frustrating thing about it,” her brother Nestfield Lopez told Black British newspaper The Voice. "She said, 'I’m going to kill myself because if I get sent home, I’m going to get killed anyway.'”
Jamaica is known to be vocal and forthcoming about its lack of tolerance for homosexuals. Ahead of last year’s elections, leading candidates spoke openly about beliefs that removing anti-gay laws would bring “God's wrath down on Jamaica.”
Lopez’s case came to the attention of immigration officials after she was advised to apply for asylum following the deportation of both her parents last year. Her brother has been allowed to remain in the country because of his marriage to a British national. After her application was denied, Lopez was then placed in the “fast track" system, meaning she can be deported as soon as four to seven days after her case is decided.
Despite having parents who now live in Jamaica, moving home with them is not an option for Lopez either, her brother tells The Voice.
"Every time I speak to my dad, we have an argument. He says, ‘Have you not thrown her out yet? Don’t give her any money and don’t look after her. You should choke her and kill her.’ That’s what he’s saying to me. I’m like, 'That’s your daughter!' But he says, 'Oh no. I don’t have no daughter anymore.' That’s what I have to deal with!" Nestfield said.
Despite more tolerance for homosexuality, the troubling intersection between immigration policy and the status of gays and lesbians is an issue the U.S. is grappling with as well.
A federal immigration judge on Friday put a deportation proceeding on hold for a gay California man who is an undocumented immigrant and lawfully married to a man who is a U.S. citizen. If the couple were heterosexual, their marriage would be enough to win citizenship for the man in jeopardy.
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