Blog > Thinking about the ‘Rights of Passage’

Thinking about the ‘Rights of Passage’

The news constantly gives us examples of human suffering, and yet without direct access to the emotions behind these stories it can at times be hard to realise them. Clare Summerskill brings some of this suffering into sharp focus, in her new verbatim play, ‘Rights of Passage’ the first performance in a new Oh! Presents programme held at Oxford House last Friday.

Presented by Artemis Theatre Company, ‘Rights of Passage’ deals with the subject of LGBT asylum seekers, and gives vivid insights into the lives and the difficulties faced by the LGBT community. The play touched on many aspects of these difficulties, confronting the issues faced in native countries and problems of seeking asylum in the UK.

The performance was based on genuine interviews with LGBT asylum seekers, and it is perhaps for this reason that the atmosphere was such a profound one. It relayed true incidents of a lesbian woman forced into a heterosexual marriage in Uganda; of a gay man in Malaysia who, due to the countries silence about homosexuality, did not even know that the word ‘gay’ existed and was instead forced to remain confused about his sexual desires; and of a man from Iran who was forced to flee his native country due with repressive legislation punishing homosexuality by execution. It was also disturbing to hear of the continued suffering of asylum seekers upon arrival to the UK – one man was told he had insufficient ‘evidence’ to prove his sexual orientation after failing to know on the spot the closing hours for G.A.Y Late in London.

While it may feel that a daily diet of news desensitises us and distances us from acknowledging the extent of human suffering this new play from Artemis Theatre provides a timely and true voice for the challenges facing LCBT asylum seekers.

Text: Hayley Downey

Image: Alison Darren