In 36 hours, Brenda Namigadde is scheduled to be deported from the UK. This is some cause for concern, given that she is an out lesbian, and the nation she would be forced to return to — Uganda — is not exactly a safe place to be queer.
Gay sex is a criminal offence in Uganda punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
[Legislator David] Bahati told the Guardian: “Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”
Asked what would happen if she did not “repent” he said: “If she is caught in illegal practices she will be punished. If she comes to promote homosexuality, if she is caught in the act, if she is caught in illegal acts, she will be punished. I would be surprised, if she was promoting homosexuality, if she were not arrested.”
His bill, currently in committee stage, would impose life imprisonment for consenting adults who have gay sex, and the death penalty for people with HIV, “serial” homosexuals and those who have sex with under-18s, if it became law.
Bahati’s promise that the death penalty is being reconsidered and that she would be safe provided she stays in the closet is not particularly reassuring, given the societal climate in Uganda, these days, where mobs are employing vigilante justice against anyone who is suspected to be gay or lesbian, regardless of whether or not they’re actually caught in the act:
The details surrounding [LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle’s] murder are unknown at this time. He was reportedly beaten in the skull with a hammer at his home. We do not yet know whether it was a single assailant or a group of people, nor do we know any other circumstances surrounding his death.
David Kato was one of the people identified in the outing campaign conducted by the newspaper Rolling Stone (no relation to the US magazine of the same name), which encouraged readers to “Hang Them!” Many of those fingered were not identified as gay because of committing an act of gay sex, but from their Facebook photos. Considering the international publicity surrounding her case, Namigadde has plenty to worry about.
And yet, according to The Guardian:
Her initial asylum claim was rejected in part on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence that she is a lesbian.
Seriously? How exactly does a person need to do this? And is that enough to quibble over and send someone to their likely death?
All Out has set up a letter campaign to petition Home Secretary Theresa May to reconsider. Go there. Now. It takes a minute.