Ugandan lesbian asylum seeker wins last minute reprieve from deportation from UK

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

Solicitors acting for a Ugandan lesbian who was due to be deported from the United Kingdom earlier this evening have said that she has won a temporary reprieve in advance of a fresh court appeal.

Brenda Namigadde, 29, was due to fly from Heathrow at 9:20 pm and was already on board the aircraft at when an injunction stopping the deportation was granted.

The deportation was to take place little more than 48 hours after the prominent Ugandan LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights campaigner David Kato was violently murdered.

Ms Namigadde’s solicitor, Alex Oringa, said that she will be taken back to Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire pending a hearing in the High Court on Wednesday.

Earlier, the shadow justice minister Andy Slaughter expressed his “grave concern” over the proposed deportation of Ms Namigadde, who lives in his Hammersmith constituency.

“Whatever the circumstances surrounding Ms Namigadde’s presence in Britain, it is clear that she cannot be deported to Uganda at present,” he said. “Both the public mood and the official stance towards homosexuals in Uganda are lethal at the moment – we should not be contemplating sending my constituents back to a society where she will be in grave danger of her life.

“I call upon Damian Green [the immigration minister] to intervene personally to halt this deportation immediately and suspend the removal notice against my constituent, until we can find a resolution to this case that does not involve sending Ms Namigadde to face certain persecution and possible death.”

In a letter to Mr Green, Mr Slaughter wrote: “Given the recent, tragic murder of David Kato in Uganda, the poor treatment of homosexuals in Uganda and the disturbing comments made by the Ugandan politician, David Bahati, about this particular case, it seems wrong that the decision has been taken to remove Ms Namigadde to Uganda where there is a very high chance that she will face persecution.”

Today, a 30,000-signature petition was delivered to Home Secretary Theresa May urging her to stop the deportation and allow Ms Namigadde to make a fresh asylum campaign.

The Ugandan’s case has been reviewed twice by a judge and her supporters say two of her witnesses were unable to attend a recent hearing.

She says that she was forced to leave the country after the home she shared with her Canadian girlfriend was burned down.

This week, the Ugandan MP responsible for the country’s notorious gay execution bill, David Bahati, said that she would be welcome in Uganda but only if she “repents”.

He told the Guardian: “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.”

Yesterday, Ms Namigadde told that she expects to be killed once returned to the country.
The UK Border Agency currently dispute her sexuality. “I have all the evidence [that I am gay] but they are denying it. I don’t know,” she told Ms Namigadde is now in the unfortunate situation of her actual sexuality being irrelevant, if deported from the UK it will be to a country where she is now widely believed to be gay.

The shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, has pointed to the lack of reference to LGBT rights on the UK Border Agency’s operational note on Uganda.”LGBT people in Uganda have faced arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and ill treatment, and the new plans for even more homophobic laws are deeply worrying,” she said.

“The UK Border Agency’s operational guidance for Uganda is now nearly two years old and does not mention LGBT rights. It needs to be updated as fast as possible to reflect the current situation on the ground.”

Stonewall co-founder Labour MEP Michael Cashman wrote to Theresa May, the home secretary on behalf of the European Parliament’s intergroup on LGBT rights.

He wrote: “There is no better-known, clearer, or more certain a fate for LGBT people than in Uganda. Respectable international human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association have consistently documented Uganda as one of the most dangerous places for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people today.”

The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group said that Mr Kato’s death earlier this week 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.”

The coalition agreement committed the current government to improving the situation of gay asylum seekers.

Speaking at event held by the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group in London earlier this evening, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that this case was an example of how the government hadn’t put the promise into action.