Supporters launch petition for Ugandan asylum seeker

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Supporters of a Ugandan asylum seeker have launched a petition to call for him to be allowed to remain in the UK.

Those who have met 33-year-old Robert Segwanyi say he is “obviously gay”, despite a judge’s ruling that there is no evidence of this.

Uganda has strict laws against homosexuality and Mr Segwanyi says he was tortured and jailed for being gay.

He is expected to be deported on Thursday.

The asylum seeker has the support of his local MP, Liberal Democrat Mike Hancock, who has accused the UK Border Agency of homophobia over the case.

Mr Hancock, who says judges in the case have made “factual errors”, has called for a fresh appeal.

Ugandan gay refugee John Bosco, who has been in contact with Mr Segwanyi, said he was “terrified” at the prospect of being deported.

He said: “When I met him face to face, it was obvious that Robert is gay. The way he was talking, the mannerism and mentioning some of Ugandan gay guys I from Uganda.

“Robert told me what he has been through and from my experience I knew it did happen to him as it happened to me when people in Uganda came to know about my sexuality.”

The petition to allow Mr Segwanyi to stay in the UK was started by LGBT asylum campaigner Paul Canning, who has collected more than 400 signatures and is also urging people to contact Home Secretary Theresa May about the case.

Speaking to last week, Mr Canning said: “Both UKBA [the UK Border Agency] and judges have rejected a Ugandan described by those who have met him as ‘obviously gay’. A highly respected psychologist judged Robert as gay and also as suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because of his arrest and torture in Uganda.

“UKBA have ignored their own country guidance to claim Uganda is ‘safe’ to return Robert to.”

Mr Segwanyi, who is currently in Haslar Detention Centre, came to the UK in June 2010 after, he says, escaping prison in Uganda.

He applied for asylum shortly after arrival but was denied leave to stay in the UK and an immigration judge rejected his appeal.