Lesbian in the Congo: Christina Fonthes update

Yesterday we ran an article about Christina Fonthes, an LGBT+ activist from Manchester who had allegedly been kidnapped in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Friends and campaigners, including Nigerian asylum seeker Aderonke, claimed Christina had been held against her will at her aunt’s house by her family, who wanted to ‘cure’ her of her homosexuality.

Christina is one of the founders of Rainbow Noir, a support group in Manchester for LGBT+ people of colour. She was travelling to the DRC with her mother for a family holiday.

Christina’s family had allegedly taken her passport and return tickets, although she was able to escape and stay with a friend at an undisclosed location. Friends believed she was bribing the police to avoid capture (her family having reported her as missing when she escaped).

After supporters took to social media, and emailed and called both the British Embassy in the DRC and the Home Office in the UK, it seemed Christina was relatively safe – she had made contact with the Embassy and was seeking help in obtaining emergency travel documents.

Activist Aderonke said, ‘The latest news is that Christina Fonthes has been at the Embassy for several hours today and has friends waiting outside for her but no one knows what’s happening inside. Her mother reported her as missing, as a way to try to track her down. Christina has asked that people contact the Embassy to urge them to sort out her travel documents ASAP so that she is able to leave the country.’

Chloe Cousins, a friend of Christina’s and Youth Programme Co-ordinator at The Lesbian & Gay Foundation, wrote to supporters later last night:

It has been confirmed that Christina was arrested after leaving the embassy and released back to her family where she is currently trying to negotiate her journey home. Christina’s life is still in very real danger and we need to continue to raise the profile of this case on as many media channels as we can. We have no more information that this at the current time and are currently putting together a press release and contact list to send it to.

But news this morning – coming via Change.org and Christina’s friends and supporters – indicates that after leaving the British Embassy in the DRC yesterday (who said they were unable to house Christina and that she should return to stay with her friend for the time being), she was apparently apprehended by the Congolese authorities and returned to her aunt’s house.

Friends now believe Christina is being beaten and that her life is at risk, unless the British Embassy in the DRC is able to find her and keep her safe until she is flown back to the UK.

Campaigners were asking people to sign a Change.org petition to compel the British Embassy to return Christina to the UK. Sarah Burton’s Change.org petition has so far received over 500 signatures, and appears to have closed. UPDATE: Campaigners are now asking supporters not to contact politicians or the press while next steps are being taken.