Don’t send gays and lesbians back to Uganda, asylum group warns

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An LGBT asylum group says the murder of Ugandan gay campaigner David Kato is evidence of the threat gays and lesbians face in the country.

The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group said that the UK government must ensure that LGBT asylum seekers are given the help they need, rather than being sent home.

The warning comes 24 hours before a Ugandan lesbian, Brenda Namigadde, is expected to be deported.

Ms Namigadde, 29, has been told by the UK Border Agency that her claim has been rejected because there is not enough evidence that she is gay.

But her supporters say she had a long-term relationship with a Canadian woman in Uganda before the couple’s house was burned down by angry neighbours.

She fled the country in 2003.

Ms Namigadde told that her deportation was scheduled for 9pm tomorrow (Friday) and that she expects to be killed once returned to the country.

She said she did not know why her claim had been rejected, saying: “I have all the evidence [that I am gay] but they are denying it. I don’t know.”

Home Secretary Theresa May has been begged to intervene in the case.

Ominously, the Ugandan MP who tabled a bill calling for the execution and life imprisonment of gays, David Bahati, has commented on Ms Namigadde’s plight.

Mr 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.”

He added: “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.”

The UKLGIG said that Mr Kato’s death shows how dangerous Uganda is for gays and lesbians and called for the government to do more to help asylum seekers.

Executive director Phil Jones said: “This shocking murder demonstrates once again that Uganda remains an oppressive and unsafe country for lesbians and gay men.

“The UK government must ensure that Ugandan lesbians and gay men who have fled to the UK are given the protection they need, and not returned to be the next victims of violent homophobia.”

Asylum campaigner Paul Canning added: “The situation for LGBTI [people] has been worsening for months.

“The author of the ‘kill the gays’ bill, David Bahati MP, has admitted that it is his goal ‘to kill every last gay person’. He has also made a point of threatening Brenda personally, because he thinks she is ’embarassing’ Uganda and saying she must ‘repent and reform’ or be imprisoned.

“I don’t know how clearer it could be that it is not safe to remove this woman tomorrow.”

Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that gay asylum seekers could not be returned home on the premise that they could be “discreet” about their sexual orientation.

Ms May said afterwards: “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.”

Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border Agency, said: “Ms Namigadde’s case has been carefully considered by both the UK Border Agency and the courts on two separate occasions and she has been found not to have a right to remain here. An immigration judge found on the evidence before him that Ms Namigadde was not homosexual.

“She has submitted further representations and these will be reviewed by the UK Border Agency prior to any removal.

“The government has made it clear that it is committed to stopping the removal of asylum seekers who have genuinely had to leave particular countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identification. However, when someone is found not to have a genuine claim we expect them to leave voluntarily.”