Trudy Simpson and Mark Williams, Voice Writers
More than 700 people have signed two petitions to halt the deportation of a Jamaican-born lesbian fighting to stay in the UK.
“A lot of people are supporting us,” said Nestfield Lopez, who said he has amassed more than 200 signatures on his online petition and a further 500 on an accompanying street petition.
His 22-year-old sister Coletane Lopez, from West Yorkshire, was detained by the UK Border Agency on March 20 and taken to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire after her human rights application was denied.
She was placed on a fast track process, meaning she could have been deported within days.
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However, following a Voice article on her plight and two petitions her brother started, she has since been released and is awaiting a new decision.
“We’re really happy that she’s home but we still have to wait. It’s not over yet,” said Lopez, who only found out his sister was a lesbian last December.
He continued: “They stopped the fast track application. What they said is that she must now report to the local Border Agency office in Leeds every week.”
He added: “Hopefully, we will get a positive response from the Home Office.”
In March, Lopez, who also lives in West Yorkshire, said he feared his sister would be killed if sent back to Jamaica, where he says homophobia is rife. “She’s been worried,” Lopez said. “At one point she wanted to commit suicide. She said ‘I’m going to kill myself because if I get sent home, I’m going to get killed anyway’.”
Lopez and his sister first came to the UK with their family in 2000.
Last year, their parents were sent back to Jamaica, but Lopez, who is married with two young children, has been granted the right to remain because his partner is a British national.
He said his sister would have nowhere to go if she is returned to Jamaica as his parents refuse to accept her because of her sexuality.
Lopez said: “Every time I speak to my dad, we have an argument. He says, ‘have you not thrown her out yet? Don’t give her any money and don’t look after her’.”
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”