The gay scene where I was born in Pakistan is very terrifying,” says Maajid*, who came to the UK after being disowned by his family. “If you were having sex with someone and they caught you it’s 200 lashes. I was never attracted to girls and it was very hard to hide my feelings living in Pakistani culture and society.”
If Maajid thought his arrival in the UK would liberate him from homophobic persecution he was mistaken. While awaiting the outcome of his asylum claim, he lived in shared accommodation run by G4S. He was bullied and threatened with violence by other asylum seekers so regularly he was prescribed anti-depressants. His experiences echo those of many LGBT refugees – not just in the UK, but across Europe. London’s gay scene provided a much-needed safe space.