Leeds campaigners bring halt to Gloria’s deportation...just hours before flight

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Campaigners fought to stop a Leeds volunteer from being deported just hours before her flight was due to leave.

Gloria Namuzungu, who has volunteered for several months at the Rainbow Junktion pay-as-you-feel community cafe in Hyde Park, was due to be deported to Uganda yesterday evening.

But her flight was deferred, after pressure from the community, backed by MPs.

Nearly 9,500 people signed a petition, set up by Leeds No Borders, to stop her deportation.

The group said 22-year-old Gloria, who was preparing to put in a fresh claim for asylum after her first was rejected, would face life imprisonment in Uganda for being gay, and would be at risk of anti-LGBT persecution and violence.

Their campaign was backed by Headingley councillor Jonathan Pryor, who wrote a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid asking for Gloria’s deportation to be cancelled.

The councillor said: “Her asylum claim is a literal matter of life or death.”

MPs including Hilary Benn, for Leeds Central, and Alex Sobel, for Leeds North West, “played a pivotal role” in deferring the deportation by contacting the Home Office, campaigners said, whilst dozens of people phoned and tweeted Qatar Airlines to demand it refuse to fly Gloria to Uganda.

Emily Carrigan, Rainbow Junktion cafe manager and a volunteer with Leeds No Borders, said: “Gloria is a much-loved part of our team at the cafe, her smile lights up the kitchen and we want her back. It is amazing to see the impact that community support and public pressure can have.”

She said deferring Gloria’s flight means she will have more time to submit her fresh claim for asylum.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases but said: “The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who need our protection. Every asylum claim is considered on its individual merits.”