Mohammed faced an unwanted marriage, homelessness, depression, and now he is free.
Mohammed (pseudonym) was studying in the UK and pressured into a heterosexual marriage by his family. He fled this marriage and could not return to his homeland of Pakistan upon realising the threats this posed to his life. He came to the Peter Tatchell Foundation just under one year ago, seeking our help with his asylum claim. We are delighted to announce that in early 2019 he finally gained refugee status by the Home Office. We are proud to have been able to help Mohammed secure a place of safety in the UK and to share his story below.
London, UK – April 2019
See Mohammed’s statement below:
I am from a very conservative family in Pakistan and when my mother passed away, my father threw me out of the house. My maternal uncle and aunt looked after me; I was only 15 and found a job whilst studying. I was attracted to men and tried to fight it, as I thought it was unnatural and worst of all, frowned upon by God. I struggled with my sexuality all the time and I was hating myself.
In 2010 I came to the UK to further my studies, but even here I was struggling to accept who I was. I was pressured and forced into marriage by my family. I was terribly unhappy and still struggling with my sexuality. I tried every possible way to escape this marriage. I even phoned the police asking them to arrest me, claiming that I had stolen my wife’s money. In the end, I had no other option to tell my wife that I was gay.
Suddenly, my whole world crumbled and everyone that I knew turned their back on me. Worst, my family and that of my wife got extremely aggressive and I received numerous threats that they would be looking for me.
My family in Pakistan made it clear that if ever I was to return, they would hunt me down like an animal and kill me because I was dirty, sinful and brought ‘dishonour’ to them. I finally got some help and applied for asylum.
Being without resources, I was offered some accommodation, but I barely ever left my room in the first year. I only went to the kitchen and made dinner. It was a very hard time and I felt isolated. My time was spent only watching the cars passing by. My mental health suffered and I tried to kill myself. I was told ‘you are a waste of public funds’, that I did not deserve to being helped. I was so afraid of being deported and be killed in Pakistan that I moved away from the accommodation provided by the Government. For 6 months, I was homeless. I lived in the bus station, under bridges, wherever I could. I had given up on life. It took me some time and lots of support to go back and undertake the asylum process again.
Luckily in 2019, I was granted refugee status. It is very difficult for me to explain how I felt when I received the news. Initially I thought it might not be real, that the Home Office would come in the night and ship me back to Pakistan. Then I realised that actually I was able to stay here. It meant I could now start my life again. I was ecstatic and felt so much joy when I knew that I would not be sent back to Pakistan, which would have meant death.
Now I have turned a new page in my life and I am ever grateful that I am now able to be myself as a gay man. Today, I am comfortable with my sexuality and eager to grasp at any opportunities that may come my way. Today is a new beginning for me and I am so grateful to those who believed in me and supported me.