A Ugandan gay campaigner, Brenda Namigadde, who was studying in the UK applied for asylum after events in her country turned very, very bad. Firstly, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan parliament to increase punishments for homosexuality and to impose the death penalty in certain cases. Secondly, the a vicious press campaign started in which alleged gay people were outed in newspapers, which said they should be killed.
Understandably Ms Namigadde was terrified of returning to such a murderous climate and applied for asylum. This was turned down. The Home Office rarely grants asylum to gay people and the standard response is to tell them to “go home and live discreetly”.
Today comes the terrible news that a Ugandan gay campaigner, David Kato, was attacked in his home and beaten to death. David had been receiving death threats since he was ‘outed’ by a local newspaper.
Mr Kato undertook a short speaking tour of the UK last year to talk about the plight of gay Ugandans. His talk was entitled “A Matter of Life and Death: LGBTI Rights in Uganda”. While other Ugandan activists have sought refuge in South Africa, Mr Kato returned to Uganda to continue campaigning, but the title of his speech was – tragically – no exaggeration.
Regardless, our Home Office deems Uganda a ‘safe’ country to which gay people can be returned, as Brenda Namigadde will be tomorrow unless sense and humanity prevails.
To add a chilling footnote, earlier this week, Ms Namigadde received a message from Ugandan MP David Bahati, the author of the bill seeking to impose the death penalty for homosexuality. Bahati believes that there is a well-funded global conspiracy to recruit children to homosexuality. His message was sent in a response to an American blogger, Melanie Nathan, who highlighted Ms Namigadde’s case. She reports:
Bahati said he read the piece about Brenda Namigadde where I quoted him and that he was calling to tell me to give Brenda a message. The author of the anti-gay legislation said that the legislation will be presented to the Ugandan Parliament in the next few weeks. Homosexuality Including men and women is considered a crime in Uganda as being against the order of nature. The new Bill by Bahati seeks to affirm its criminalization and also calls for the death penalty in certain circumstances.
He told me that Brenda should stop bad mouthing Uganda; that she would be welcome back to Uganda if she renounced her homosexuality and if she “repented.” I asked him if he based this ideal upon religious beliefs and he said “yes” that he did. I asked what if Brenda did not have the same belief as he did? I asked what if she did not believe that she could repent? He affirmed then she would be tried as a criminal.
After speaking to Mr. Bahati, I realize that he believes that Ms. Namigadde is indeed a lesbian. This serves only to enhance the danger she is in and flies in the face of the UK assertion that she may not have proved that she is a lesbian. She is indeed in danger.
It was astounding to me that David Bahati would call to comment on this case and the very fact that he did is indicative of the danger that Brenda faces.
He seemed to be very concerned about Uganda’s image and that she should not portray “her country as bad.” I believe that this adds to her danger.
Bahati said that Uganda is not harassing Brenda but rather it would be enforcing the law. I questioned him about the law itself and mentioned that the western world did not agree that homosexuality was not a human right as he had told me previously. I told him that the UK and the USA would expect Uganda to adhere to the terms of the Declaration of Human Rights and that if he could not see it that way that there would be every reason to grant her asylum abroad.
He did not agree.
Surely in light of the murder of David Kato and a menacing message from a Ugandan legislator directed personally at Brenda Namigadde, her deportation order must be revoked and her asylum case reviewed?
Her life is at stake.
There is a petition appealing to Home Secreatry Theresa May to step in and halt this deportation. Please consider adding your voice.