Ugandan gay rights activists are demonstrating in London today (15 June), protesting the UK’s deportation of LGBT asylum seekers and the return of the African nation’s anti-homosexuality bill.
Campaigners from the Movement for Justice held a rally outside Uganda House in London at 1pm, holding banners and chanting ‘Lesbian and gay men have the right. Here to stay, here to fight’, and ‘Racist, sexist, anti-gays, you can’t take our rights away’.
The group are urging the UK’s Home Office to stop deporting gay and lesbian refugees back to Uganda, where they face persecution and Catholic bishops are calling for a revival of the ‘kill the gays’ anti-homosexuality bill.
One such asylum seeker, 22-year-old lesbian Linda Nakibuuke, has been detained since 11 April and despite being told that she was tortured for being a lesbian in Uganda, the UK Borders Agency still plan to deport her there.
Another Ugandan lesbian, Aisha Namirembe, was detained on 11 May after attending a screening interview.
Speaking at the protest, 31-year-old Kiwanuka Abbey said if sent back to Uganda, gay and lesbian asylum seekers face being attacked, raped or even killed because of their sexuality.
‘If you are deported back to Uganda, you cannot live a normal life,’ he told Gay Star News, explaining how he has been a close friend of Nakibuuke for four years now.
He added: ‘Some end up killing themselves or going far away and isolating themselves because you can’t hide your sexuality forever.’
Lesbian refugee Proscovia, who would not reveal her surname, said she was also detained for four months by the UK Border Agency and has been struggling to stay in the UK for two and a half years now.
The 38-year-old said: ‘In Uganda you have to stay in the closet and cannot love any women, otherwise you might get killed or stoned to death.’
Movement for Justice is also fighting against the deportation of four other Ugandan and Senegalese gay asylum seekers, Seringe Tacko Mbengue, Asuman Kabugo, Andrew Lukkalu and Proscovia. Last week, Lukkalu was granted refugee status but the others are still waiting in limbo.
The campaign group, who successfully campaigned for gay Ugandan Kalanzi Marvin Richard to be released from detention and freed from deportation from The Netherlands, have started a petition to the home office to save Nakibuuke and others.
Protest organizer Antonia Bright said they have to keep mobilizing their campaign in order to show gay Ugandans that they are not invisible and to stop the UK’s deportation of LGBT asylum seekers.
‘It is people’s live. It is as urgent as that,’ she told GSN. ‘We have people in detention right now who could be deported. We have people who have struggled for more than a year without even getting an answer from the Home Office about their status, living every day with complete uncertainty. It’s excrutiating.’
A second demonstration will be held outside the Home Office today at 3pm.