Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Zimbabwe

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Zimbabwe

Article excerpt

Moud Goba is a project manager at Micro Rainbow International. Originally from Zimbabwe, she helps fellow LGBTI+ refugees find safe shelter in the United Kingdom. This is her story, as told to Kay Cairns.

As an ambitious young lesbian I knew there was no way I would be able to live openly in Zimbabwe. When my family discovered my sexuality, they took me to church and tried to "exorcise my demons and bad spirits." Forced to conform, I tried to hide who I was and live a heteronormative life, living with secrets and shame, for fear of abuse, harassment, and persecution.

It was because of this uncertainty that I left my country. Our president, Robert Mugabe, calls us worse than pigs and dogs, and it's illegal to be LGBT. I got a student visa to live in the United Kingdom as soon as I could, and when that ran out I knew I'd have to find a way to stay.

I remember walking up to the Home Office in London with such hope--ready to tell my story, be listened to, and get protection. My experience couldn't have been further from that. I remember the Home Office asking me again and again if I was sure I was a lesbian. I was 17 weeks pregnant--something the officer seemed to think was impossible for a lesbian. I knew from that moment it was going to be a hard road to asylum.

Others I work with have been targeted for corrective rape in their home countries, attacked by mobs for having been found with a same-sex partner, or tricked into visiting family only to be beaten, locked up, and forced into an arranged marriage. Many women also lose custody of their children upon discovery of their sexuality. Families or their husbands forbid them to see or talk to their children.

The horror doesn't end once you're in the United Kingdom. Many have regular nightmares of the abuse they've endured. And living as an asylum seeker is incredibly difficult. …

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