A gay Ugandan man, who was a friend of the murdered gay rights activist David Kato, is hoping to seek refuge in the US.
John Wambere previously fought for LGBT rights in Uganda for 14 years, but formally requested asylum in the US on Tuesday, saying his nation’s tough new anti-gay legislation has given him even more cause to fear for his life.
It calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.
In 2011, Mr Wambere reportedly fought through an angry anti-gay mob of protesters to bury his friend David Kato, a gay rights leader who had been beaten and bludgeoned to death. Days later, Mr Wambere’s phone began to ring, with the caller saying: “You are next.”
The 41-year-old is a well-known figure among the Ugandan LGBT community. However, his prominence has come at a cost, having been evicted and arrested three times, and beaten unconscious because of his sexuality.
Mr Wambere told the Boston Globe: “This has been a very, very difficult decision for me. It gives me great pain not to be with my community, allies, and friends while they are under increasing attack.”
However, he said the fear of being imprisoned or even killed is preventing him from returning to the country.
The gay rights activist has urged for religious and political leaders in the US to impose further sanctions against Uganda in a bid to uphold the human rights of LGBT citizens in the African nation.
His visa to remain in the US expires on Wednesday.