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well, that was my political act of the month - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
well, that was my political act of the month
For what it's worth, I just wrote to my MP.

Dear Susan & Staff,

I am currently going round in circles here trying to find the most appropriate person to contact.

I am writing regarding Elizabeth, a Ugandan lesbian who is facing deportation on Friday 2nd June. (Home Office reference number K1182008). She has apparently been raped and tortured in her native country, and is suffering from a number of physical and mental health problems as a result, including severe depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her story is documented on a number of web sites including: http://www.elizabethmuststay.co.uk/elizabethsstory.htm

Her campaign site is asking people to email Liam Byrne, the Minister for Immigration, but his official web site says that "Because of strict Parliamentary protocal (sic), neither myself nor members of my staff in my constituency office will be able to act of (sic) anyone outside of the constituency" even for issues relating to his Immigration role. This doesn't seem right to me - surely, there must be some accountability? some way to contact the Government directly without having to go through the intermediary of your own constituency MP? But anyway, in the absence of a better plan, I am writing to you as my MP for Richmond Park constituency instead, even though I'm not sure what use it will be to try to get Parliament involved at this late stage.

I cannot comment on the veracity of this story, because I do not know Elizabeth personally, but she apparently has the support of her own constituency MP David Heyes (Labour, Ashton-under-Lyne) and another local MP Tony Lloyd (Labour, Manchester Central), and I assume that you could contact them for corroborating information.

I do feel it is necessary for Ministers to be aware that for every Daily Express-waving "Get the illegals out" (since when has "illegal" been a noun, anyway?) there are a dozen or more people delighted to live in the multi-cultural, multi-faith society that is modern Britain. I was ridiculously proud of our country when the Civil Partnership Act finally limped into law, because we now, finally, have legal recognition for same-sex partnerships that is equal in word, if not name, to opposite-sex marriage. I regard equal inheritance, pension and visitation rights as a sign of a civilised society.

So I am horrified at the thought that we might be sending a vulnerable woman, who has already been tortured, back to the country that tortured her - a place where homosexuals and bisexuals do not have protection in law. Not least of all because her lawyers are preparing an appeal, and the Home Office is aware of this. She is awaiting a full medical report on 8th June to support this appeal. How can we be a civilised democracy if we deport genuine refugees before even hearing their appeal? Where is the civilisation in denying a damaged person access to their specialist counsellors and mental health professionals?

I request that you contact Liam Byrne, the Minister for Immigration, directly and ask him to intervene to prevent this deportation, and also inform other MPs with an interest in human rights, in the hope that cross-party Parliamentary pressure may encourage the Home Office to do the right thing.

Yours sincerely,
Me.
My full address.

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baratron From: baratron Date: 1st June 2006 21:09 (UTC) (Link)
She knows me by sight but possibly not name, whereas her husband knows me by name and address but possibly not sight. I'm unsure whether the various factors will be put together for them to recognise "oh yes, we know that person", although I'm sure they'll cross-check with existing Party records to see whether I'm registered as a Lib Dem supporter.

The main reason I wrote it in a fairly informal style is that I felt it necessary to make it clear I was a real person writing a genuine letter, not someone copying & pasting from a form letter. I hoped that there were sufficient long words to make it clear that I am an intelligent, thinking member of the electorate - without sounding like I'm completely up my own arse. The fact is, I recognise that while I have more interest in politics than many, I don't know what the proper procedure is, and I'm genuinely confused about Liam Byrne's apparent abdication of duty. While it may indeed be proper procedure not to approach a Minister directly, I would prefer to have that documented somewhere official rather than tucked away as an illiterate ramble with two grammatical mistakes on his personal web site.

Anyway, I'm not sure that there is anything that anyone can do, but I feel slightly less powerless now. Which was the whole reason I spent an hour of my life writing the email.
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