Current Affairs

Lesbian fights asylum case in US

Rachel Charman March 23, 2007
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A Ugandan lesbian has won her appeal to have her deportation from the United States reconsidered.

Olivia Nabulwala, who fled Uganda in 2001 after enduring homophobic violence from her family and others, was at risk of deportation for remaining in the US after her visa had run out.

Joseph Dierkes, the immigration judge in Bloomington who originally dealt with her case, admitted that her story was ‘generally credible’ and he believed that she had suffered abuse, but denied her asylum in October 2005.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Board of Immigration Appeals had misapplied the law, and ordered the BIA to revisit the case.

The panel also noted that homosexuals have the right to asylum because of persecution, or a well-founded fear of persecution, in their country of origin.

Nabulwala’s counsel argued that contrary to Dierkes’ decision:

“Olivia is entitled to asylum because, although her persecution was primarily at the hands of private individuals, the Ugandan government has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to control those individuals.”

Nabulwala said she had been a victim of several violent attacks; her aunt had physically abused her after she came out to her family; she was hospitalised after an angry mob attacked her at a lesbian rights group meeting; and two relatives arranged for her to be raped by a stranger.

The Ugandan government is hostile towards homosexuality.

In 2005, it passed an amendment that criminalized same-sex marriages.

According to, gays and lesbians face the threat of torture in some detention centres, and being found “guilty” of homosexual practices can be punished with life imprisonment.

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