A transgender Thai man detainee at Yarl’s Wood immigration removal centre who was allegedly trafficked to the UK is expected to be deported tonight.
According to activists advocating on behalf of Tanya*, the Home Office began the process of deporting her earlier this week.
Since the end of March, Tanya has been left waiting for his deportation, as the Home Office does not give notice to those it intends to deport and often carries out such procedures at night.
After being kept in a reception area in Yarl’s Wood, Tanya was moved from the Bedfordshire detention centre to Heathrow airport on Friday afternoon.
SOAS Detainee Support, a University of SOAS student advocacy group, has hit out at the Home Office’s decision.
The group has mounted a campaign to put pressure on the Thai Airways airline to refuse to fly Tanya, as the airline has no legal obligation to comply with the Home Office’s instructions.
This strategy has prevented several deportations in recent months.
“We have received news that Tanya is being taken on flight TG917 at 21.25 tonight on Thai Airways. Please tweet the airline telling them that they do not have to comply in the violent deportation of Tanya,” the group said.
Speaking to PinkNews, a SOAS Detainee Support member who wished to be known only as Melissa, said: “Tanya was taken from her room at Yarl’s Wood early this morning and told she would be deported today.
“He was then held in the reception room for hours and despite constantly asking for more information, including her flight details, he was given nothing.
“As a trans woman and a survivor of sex trafficking, Tanya faces great danger if sent back to Thailand. The Home Office knows this, and is deporting her anyway.”
Melissa continued: “Detention and deportation are harmful, racist, and unjust practices.
“Tanya currently has no legal representation, as she was messed around by a private solicitor who dropped her case when it got too complicated.”
Friends of Tanya have told PinkNews that they are seeking an injunction to prevent Tanya’s deportation.
Tanya was previously represented by his best friend Paul, but after he was suddenly hospitalised last month, Tanya was left with no representation until SOAS Detainee Support became involved.
Tanya, who has been detained in Yarl’s Wood since December 30 2017, has said that he had been trafficked into the UK by a gang as a sex worker in 2014.
He said she escaped the gang in which she was indentured as a “ladyboy escort” in 2015 and began to build a new life as an asylum claimant.
“When I arrived I felt shocked, I felt sad, I felt helpless,” he said
“But now I can no longer see the light. I just want to be with [his partner, Oli] and I want to be back in London living the life I was before,” she said.
Tanya’s friend and fellow Thai native Ratchanee* has said that Tanya’s life could be imperilled if she is deported.
“He will face a life of discrimination out of there, and a situation of great danger,” she said.
“Everyone thinks because Bangkok is fine with trans people, everywhere else in Thailand is, but it is not the case.
“He will be laughed at, he will be beaten, he will be trafficked again. Trans people are so much more prone to being trafficked,” she explained.
“They could rape him, they could do anything. I’m trying my best to help. But he’s a nice person. He’s a nice person who just wants to live his life.”
Many politicians have condemned the Home Office’s decision to deport Tanya, including the Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas.
Abbott called Tanya’s case “truly shocking” and has reminded the government of its “duty of care to all victims of abuse.”
“If they are confirmed, the details of this case are truly shocking. Sadly, having recently visited Yarl’s Wood, I know this case is not unique,” she said.
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