Ugandan asylum seeker wins reprieve

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A Ugandan asylum seeker who says he will face homophobic persecution if returned home has been permitted to make a fresh appeal.

Robert Segwanyi, 33, was due to be deported from the UK at 8pm last night after a judge decided that his case was not credible.

But just an hour before the flight was due to leave, his lawyer was informed by the Home Office that the removal had been deferred.

Mr Segwanyi, who says he was harassed and burnt with molten plastic while in Uganda, feared he would be killed or jailed on his return to the deeply homophobic country.

His supporters, including Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock and Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, said it was clear that he should not be sent home.

Mr Hancock accused the UK Border Agency of making errors with the case and says a judge did not consider all the evidence.

Speaking last night, the MP said: “I welcome the decision tonight not to deport Mr Segwanyi and all I ask is that Mr Segwanyi’s case is properly considered which I believe it hasn’t been up until now.

“I have grave concerns about the way has been handled by the tribunals and the Home Office. I am also disappointed about the letters that have been sent to me by the UK Border Agency which I believe contained errors on the law and factual errors.

“I hope that the UKBA will now consider his case properly. However it is bad that Mr Segwanyi was put through the agony of thinking he would be deported right up until the eleventh hour.”

LGBT asylum campaigner Paul Canning wrote: “This is a battle victory – but we have not won the war. The Home Office can still refuse to accept the fresh evidence and his asylum claim and issue new removal instructions.

“However his supporters will fight this and will argue that Robert’s mental state and his post-traumatic stress means he should be released from detention, as well as that his claim must be given a proper hearing.”

Those who have met Mr Segwanyi, including John Bosco Nyombi, a gay man who won asylum in the UK, say he is clearly gay and that his story of being harassed and burnt with molten plastic is credible.

Mr Hancock has said previously that an immigration judge did not take into account a psychiatrist’s evidence.

Uganda is seen as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBT people. In the past few years, lawmakers have considered introducing a bill to punish “aggravated” homosexuality cases with the death penalty.