UK: Protest planned outside Home Office following death of lesbian Ugandan asylum seeker

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Campaigners are blaming the UK Border Agency for deporting an asylum seeker who has reportedly died in Uganda after she claimed she was at risk of homophobic persecution.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) deported Jackie Nanyonjo to the African country on 12 January.

She had fought strongly against the deportation order and continued to resist the decision, becoming ill in the process, during her transit to Uganda’s Entebbe Airport.

According to the human rights group, Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ), Jackie Nanyonjo died in Uganda on Friday 8 March. It said in a statement: “When Jackie arrived at Entebbe Airport the ‘escort’ party handed her over to the Ugandan authorities, who held her for many more hours without any medical attention.

“When family members finally met her, long after the flight had landed, Jackie was in terrible pain and vomiting blood; they rushed her to a clinic, but in a country with widespread poverty and limited medical facilities they were unable to get the medical attention Jackie needed.

“Since Jackie was in hiding as a known lesbian, protected by relatives, every trip to a doctor or hospital involved a risk to her life and to the safety of her family. They were condemned to watch the agonising decline of Jackie’s health and strength over the next two months.”

MFJ paid tribute to Jackie Nanyonjo and said: “In Britain she had been able for the first time to live and love openly as a lesbian; she was much-loved by a wide circle of friends who kept in touch with her after she was deported and who miss her deeply.”

The group has arranged for a protest to take place outside the Home Office in Westminster, central London, from 12.30pm on Thursday 14 March.

MFJ has repeatedly accused the UK Border Agency of trying to deport LGBT asylum seekers back to countries where they face homophobic persecution – the claims have always been denied by the Home Office and UKBA.

Gay people continue to face physical attacks and social rejection in Uganda.

In 2011, activist David Kato was beaten to death but police denied this was related to his sexuality.

The Ugandan Parliament is considering legislation aimed at increasing penalties for homosexual acts.