If they are sent back to Malawi, the likelihood is that Precious will be taken by her father's family and permanently separated from her mother. They will be powerless within the legal and cultural system. If you think that Malawi is a fine place to be sent back to, you might want to have a wee look at Amnesty's recent reports on their human rights record. This report confirms that the fight for women's equality in Malawi, despite limited progress in recent years, has a long way to go.
If you are reading this and you blog, or tweet, please consider taking some time to prepare a post in their support to go live tomorrow around the time of the vigil. It would be great if the blogosphere could work together like this to ask that Florence and Precious be allowed to stay. If you are tweeting, please use the hashtag #florenceprecious
Their story could end in one of 3 ways:
They could be deported, before or after the Court of Appeal has time to consider their latest appeal. The fact that the Home Office is trying to get them out before this is heard is very worrying.
They could win their appeal.
Or, and this is the one I'm hoping for because it could happen very quickly: Home Secretary Theresa May could use her discretion to grant them leave to stay in the country outside the immigration rules on the basis of compelling compassionate circumstances. Precious is a happy girl who's doing well at school in Glasgow. Her welfare and safety would be severely compromised if she was forced to return to Malawi. That, I think, is compelling enough to require our compassion.
I was impressed and to be honest pleasantly surprised at the warmth of her tone when speaking about the recent extremely welcome Supreme Court judgement against the Discretion Test, reported in the Independent:
"I welcome the ruling of the Supreme Court, which vindicates the position of the coalition Government. We have already promised to stop the removal of asylum-seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution. I do not believe it is acceptable to send people home and expect them to hide their sexuality to avoid persecution."
"From today, asylum decisions will be considered under the new rules and the judgment gives an immediate legal basis for us to reframe our guidance for assessing claims based on sexuality, taking into account relevant country guidance and the merits of each individual case.
"We will, of course, take any decisions on a case-by-case basis looking at the situation in the country of origin and the merits of individual cases in line with our commitment."
Considering the years of churlishness from Labour ministers when decisions went against them, her tone was quite refreshing.
I hope she will therefore consider Florence and Precious' case in light of the fact that Precious has spent most of her life here and has the support of a significant and to be honest unprecedented section of Scottish society, from journalists, including Joan MacAlpine to Church leaders to the First Minister. You don't often see a joint letter like this being sent to the Prime Minister.
The person who knows most about Florence and Precious' case is the SNP MSP who's been helping them, Anne McLaughlin. You will find everything you need to know on her blog.
This is a humanitarian issue, though, not a party political one. Whatever party you are in, or if you aren't in any, please take part in the vigil tomorrow, either virtually (via blogging or tweeting), personally, or, with the wonders of technology, both. If you do blog, could you please put a link to your post in the comments to this.
Public support can make a difference and help people stay in this country. I've seen it happen before. So let's do it!