Uganda lesbian, thrown out of house naked by mob, desperately seeks girlfriend she fears is dead

A 22-year-old fears rape, jail or even death if she is forced to leave the UK to return to her country

Uganda lesbian, thrown out of house naked by mob, desperately seeks girlfriend she fears is dead
20 August 2014

The last time a 22-year-old Ugandan saw her girlfriend was when, naked and afraid, she fled her home after a mob caught them having sex.

Joan Ayebare Tumewine has called her girlfriend, who we will call Grace to protect her anonymity, every single day for over a year.

Fearing Grace is dead, her desperate search feels hopeless. Adding to her despair is the prospect of being deported from the UK back to Uganda, where she could meet a similar fate.

Tumwine’s parents discovered she was gay when she was 19, disowning her as they could ‘not take the shame of having a gay in the family’.

Moving with her girlfriend to the city, they rented a room in a house – it was all they could afford.

‘In one December night in 2012, we were in our room late in the evening and after dinner we were making love,’ Tumwine tearfully told Gay Star News.

‘Someone came into the house, and must have heard us. She walked in, we were both naked under a blanket, and she started screaming.

‘She gathered everyone she could, telling anyone we were naked, on top of each other and sinning.

‘I couldn’t think, everyone was yelling, I grabbed a small bag, some clothes and I jumped out of the house.

‘I ran so hard and so fast, I wasn’t thinking, I didn’t know whether she was caught, I didn’t know if she escaped.

‘I don’t know what happened to her.’

Fearing for her life, she lived in hiding as a friend tried to get her out of Uganda.

But when she arrived, in September 2013, her struggles did not end there.

She had started working for Burton Youth for Christ, a Christian charity based near Birmingham.

After being there for 10 months, she felt like she could not trust anyone with her story.

She claims that when her colleagues discovered she was gay, they forced her to go to Birmingham Airport, bought her a ticket, and said she had to go back.

Seeking help at the airport, she was able to agree to compromise and be taken to immigration.

She is now being held in Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre, currently unrepresented, and has not been able to have her asylum case properly heard. According to the Out and Proud Diamond Group, her case was assigned to an officer who was on vacation and now there is not enough time to investigate her story.

‘I can’t go back to my country. If I go back, I will live a fearful life. I’ll either be killed or either be in jail. In jail I will suffer. In jail they rape people,’ Tumwine said.

‘Especially, if they know I’m gay, I’ll be killed by the community or jailed for the rest of my life.’

Edwin Sesange, of the Out and Proud Diamond Group, said: ‘Joan should not be deported back to Uganda.

‘She needs to be released from Yarl’s Wood to get support from organizations and the actions of the Barton Youth for Christ needs to be investigated. It is inhuman.

‘Joan will not have any protection in Uganda so she needs to be here in the UK. If Joan could be treated like that in the UK, what will happen if she goes back?

‘We’re calling all people to keep reporting these human rights abuses and for the proper organizations to take action. Joan needs everyone’s support for justice.’

You can sign a petition, and find out more about Tumwine’s story, here.

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