A gay rights activist from Tanzania has won refugee status in the UK after a year long battle to stay in the country.
Edson ‘Eddy’ Cosmas was finally granted asylum in Britain this week, despite the Home Office initially turning him down in May 2011, claiming that the African country was safe for LGBT people and refusing to believe he is gay.
Following a bitterly fought campaign by human rights group the Movement for Justice, which included protests outside British consulates around the world, rallies in London and petitions, immigration authorities decided to allow him to stay in the UK.
‘Tanzania is definitely not a safe country for lesbians and gay men,’ Cosmas said.
‘I want my victory to encourage other gay and lesbian people who have escaped the persecution in Tanzania to join the Movement for Justice and demand asylum in Britain.’
Sex between two men is currently illegal in Tanzania and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Movement for Justice claims Cosmas received death threats on Facebook from people in his home country.
Antonia Bright of the Movement for Justice called Cosmas’s case a ‘huge victory’ for immigrant rights and the LGBT movement.
She said: ‘The thousands of people who took action to prevent Eddy's deportation, signing petitions, writing letters and articles, blogging, demonstrating and spreading the word made his case famous.
‘It’s a cause for people fighting to reverse the racism, homophobia and hypocrisy of an immigration system that is prepared to deport so many people to pain and death.'