Gay man to be deported to Uganda after refugee status rejected: ‘I’ve run out of options’

LGBTQ+ refugees from Uganda and other African countries walk together outside while they are living in Kenya and waving a rainbow flag

A gay man has expressed his horror and hopelessness after learning that he will be deported back to Uganda after living in Canada for five years.

The 25-year-old man, who came to Canada in 2018 as an international student, and has since worked in Edmonton, Alberta as a nurse, ran out of options this year when his work visa expired and his application for refugee status was rejected.

Uganda has become one of the most dangerous countries for LGBTQ+ people this year, with the introduction of its harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The act, which was signed into law in May, calls for the death penalty for certain same-sex activities, and has prompted a torrent of abuse against LGBTQ+ people in the country, from both citizens and police.

Several people hold up signs denouncing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and persecution in Uganda during a protest
A gay man is set to be deported to Uganda after failing to obtain refugee status in Canada because he cannot definitively prove his sexual orientation. (Getty)

Despite the inherent danger that awaits him at home, the man, who remained anonymous when speaking to Canada’s Global News to protect his identity, has had his refugee application and all subsequent appeals rejected.

The man, who is identified by the news outlet as “Sue”, explained that his refugee application was rejected because they couldn’t prove his sexual orientation.

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“I don’t know how to prove… How am I supposed to prove that I’m a gay man? I just told you I am a gay man,” he said.

Lawyer Michael Battista, who also spoke to the publication, said that Sue had done his best to verify his sexual identity, providing evidence of his participation in the LGBTQ+ community in Edmonton, and an affidavit from a well-known Ugandan LGBTQ+ activist to verify that he is gay. But so far, this hasn’t made a difference in Sue’s case.

“I have nowhere to go,” Sue said. “I’m stranded and even the place I thought would comfort me is forcing me out.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling, but right now I feel like I have nowhere to go.”

Sue admitted that he had presumed that in Canada he would be “comfortable” and “fine as I am”.

He continued: “The fact that I have to prove my sexuality beyond reasonable doubt is quite ridiculous to me.

“This whole thing is a horror. I feel like I’m in a nightmare and I really want to wake up, but I cannot. I’m just praying and hoping that the government can intervene.”

If nothing changes, Sue, who began his application process back in April 2022, will be deported on Tuesday (19 December).

Battista noted that he couldn’t understand why Canada hadn’t put a moratorium on the deportation, which he said could be done for people who would be returning to communities where they’d be put in danger.

“Given the deterioration of the human rights situation in [Uganda], it would be, I think, a very good policy move on the part of the government of Canada,” he said.

While he waits in limbo for the next few days, it’s hard for Sue not to think about what might await him in Uganda.

“My whole family abandoned me so even if I reach the airport, I don’t know where I’m going to stay. I don’t know where I’m going to go. I’ve run out of options.”

“There is a very high chance that I’ll be arrested and tortured, just for identifying as a gay man. This is really something very, very disheartening that a fellow human being can treat someone harshly.”

Sue has also written to Alberta MP Randy Boissoneault about his case, the office of whom told Global News that they were aware of his situation and working with immigration officials.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) told the outlet that the “decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly” and “all individuals who ae subject to removal have access to due process and procedural fairness.”

Their statement read: “Canada is monitoring the situation in Uganda and remains committed to offer refugee protection to those who need it, including individuals who have been persecuted on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, and sex characteristics.”

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill has sparked an enormous outcry from LGBTQ+ rights and human rights groups around the world, with the US going as far as to revise travel guidance to the country and imposing sanctions against Ugandan officials.

Still, the country has insisted that it won’t sway, and has accused the US of pushing “the LGBT agenda in Africa.”