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Ugandan gay couple marries in Swedish church

A gay couple who fled from Uganda's homophobic laws have married, but one of them could soon be deported
Lawrence Kaala and Jimmy Sswerwadda, a Ugandan gay couple, say they have become the first to marry in Sweden.
Photo by Jon Voss/QX.se

A gay couple who fled from Uganda’s homophobic laws have legally married in Sweden.

Lawrence Kaala and Jimmy Sswerwadda, who claim to be the first ever Ugandan gay couple to legally marry, said their vows on Saturday (26 January).

The couple married on the two-year anniversary of the murder of David Kato, one of the African country’s most famous LGBT activists.

Sweden QX’s editor Jon Voss described it as a ‘historic event not only for the lucky two, but for the LGBT community and movement in Uganda’.

While Kaala and Sswerwadda knew each other in Uganda, it was not too long before Sswerwadda was forced to flee to a country far more welcoming of gay people in 2008. The couple soon lost contact.

As Uganda’s hatred of gay people grew, Kaala said he had to suffer beatings by government officials and in the workplace.

Once his family turned their backs on him, he too was forced to flee.

Kaala traveled to Sweden, settled, and one day signed up for a magazine subscription to Come Out.

The first issue to arrive had a man on the cover who he had ‘never stopped loving’, Sswerwadda.

At a gay activist meeting in Stockholm, the African couple met again in a stairwell. They kissed and say they have never looked back.

But the Sweden Migration Board (SMB) has given the worst possible wedding gift to the couple, forcing Kaala to return to Uganda.

The deportation order has been issued, and friends of the couple are now working to get the SMB to see Kaala is in need of asylum.

Voss said: ‘They understand how symbolically important marriage is and how it makes it even more difficult for Lawrence Kaala to return to Uganda.

‘In an ideal scenario, the bureaucrats at the Migration Board and lawyers in the Immigration Courts come to their senses.’

On 4 February, Uganda’s parliament returns and the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will be top of the agenda.

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