“I FOUND myself in prison, beaten, tortured, even about to be killed.”

Asylum seeker Fabrice Mougang was once “famous” in Cameroon for educating young people in the gay community on sexual health.

The 34-year-old would march the streets calling for equal rights in a country where being gay is a crime, and had even been given a grant from an international company to raise awareness of HIV/Aids.

But his fight was crushed by police and government officials and, as the leader of the equality campaign, he was locked up and brutally tortured.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

In this republic, police can arrest a man simply for enjoying drinks perceived to be feminine or threaten to out LGBT+ people unless they hand over money.

Read more: What's planned in Bradford for LGBT History Month?

Fabrice told the Telegraph & Argus: “We were teaching people what their rights are. It’s not something you ‘should’ talk about, a taboo.

“I had no one around me.”

However there is a place where people like Fabrice can find a new family in Bradford - Shingai Mabhumbo’s LGBT asylum and immigration support group, Equity Rainbow.

Shingai offers support and guidance on the asylum process as well as fun activities to help those battling loneliness and depression.

Fabrice's story is like many others in the LGBT+ community, who were forced to leave their country over violence or systematic hate.

A 15-year-old boy, now living in Bradford, has told how he risked his life travelling from Zimbabwe to the UK by boat.

The son of a church pastor, he had been “disowned” by his own family and homeless since the age of 13.

“When I grew up it was hard for me to express myself because of my sexuality. My father would call me names and say ‘This demon, I don’t want this child’,” he said.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

In just two years, Shingai has helped secure 16 people’s statuses in the UK with some members travelling to meet-up's from Barnsley or Wolverhampton.

Mary Udoka comes every week with her nine-month-old daughter Adaora.

She said: “There’s this fear associated with the Home Office. Being a part of the group, you hear people’s stories about the interview and you draw strength from it.

“When I came here and I met Shingai, she made the group like a home for me. Ever since I joined the group, it’s been full of beautiful memories.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

While Fabrice, who was referred by the Red Cross, says the group helps him come to terms with his ordeal. 
Explaining what his life is like now, he said: “You can walk up the street and speak out as the person you are.”

How can I join Equity Rainbow?

  • Meets every Tuesday from 11 am – 1 pm at Equity Partnership, Bradford city centre. Look for the grey door.

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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: