A woman who fled Zimbabwe following a brutal anti-gay attack was forced to show naked pictures of herself to ‘prove’ her sexuality when she sought asylum in the UK
Skhumbuzo Khumalo, 24, was horrifically attacked by police in Zimbabwe for being ‘possessed’ and ‘demonic’ and had boiling water poured all over her. More after the cut…
She fled the country, where homosexuality is illegal, in 2014 and claimed asylum in the UK, but risked being deported back to Zimbabwe. After spending four weeks in a detention centre where she faced a gruelling five hour interview, she was eventually granted asylum in June 2015.
Skhumbuzo has now opened up about her experience, recalling the humiliating moment she had to hand over personal photos of her with another woman to officers.
She told the asylum group Fixers: ‘Clearly just by looking at you, they will not judge if you are gay or straight. So they left me in a position where I had to produce photos of a sexual nature, which I didn’t feel comfortable sharing. ‘The officer began flicking through the photos while I was sat in front of him. It was extremely degrading.’
Skhumbuzo, who now lives in Glasgow where she works as a charity fundraiser, said she is still haunted by the brutal attack by police, who told her she needed ‘to be fixed’.
She said: ‘A group of police officers forced their way in. Everyone scattered as they began beating us. ‘I was told, ‘We’ll kill you. Gay people are demonic and possessed. I saw one of them reach for the teapot, and to my horror, he threw the boiling water over me.
A Home Office spokesperson said the UK does not deport anyone at risk of persecution because of their sexuality.
They said: ‘We deal with any matters concerning an individual’s sexual orientation as sensitively as possible and our guidance is clear that staff are not permitted to ask inappropriate or intrusive questions, or ask for evidence of an explicit nature.’