Gay campaigners hope for reprieve for Ugandan asylum seeker
Gay rights campaigners are hoping that a lesbian Ugandan woman will be spared deportation from the UK this evening.
Brenda Namigadde is to be placed on a plane at 9.20pm after the UK Border Agency decided that she had no right to remain in the UK, as there was not enough evidence to show she is gay.
Supporters of the 29-year-old say that they would not be championing her case if she was not a lesbian and argue that there is plenty of evidence to show she will face persecution if returned to Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal.
Today, a 30,000-signature petition was delivered to Home Secretary Theresa May urging her to stop the deportation and allow Ms Namigadde to make a fresh asylum campaign.
The Ugandan’s case has been reviewed twice by a judge and her supporters say two of her witnesses were unable to attend a recent hearing.
She says that she was forced to leave the country after the home she shared with her Canadian girlfriend was burned down.
This week, the Ugandan MP responsible for the country’s notorious gay execution bill, David Bahati, said that she would be welcome in Uganda if she “repents”.
Ms Namigadde is now in the unfortunate situation of her actual sexuality being irrelevant, as she is to be deported from the UK to a country where she is now believed to be gay.
She told PinkNews.co.uk yesterday that she expected to be killed upon her return.
Paul Canning, of campaign website LGBT Asylum News, said of Ms Namigadde’s asylum application: “Lesbians have been found to be disproportionately placed into the ‘fast track’ system, which means after that one hearing Brenda’s chances of avoiding being removed are dramatically reduced.
“The government has been asked to recognise that sexuality-based asylum cases are almost always complex, should be allowed more time and therefore not place them in ‘fast-track’ but they have refused.
“LGBT Asylum News has three separate and independent pieces of evidence that say that Brenda is a lesbian. We would not have embarked on this campaign if we believed she was not.”
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Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has also called for Ms Namigadde to avoid deportation.
He said: “The Home Secretary, Theresa May, last year promised that the coalition government would not deport lesbian and gay refugees to countries like Uganda where they would be at risk of persecution.
“She should honour her pledge by halting the removal of Brenda Namigadde and allowing her to make a fresh asylum appeal.
“If she is forced back to Uganda, Brenda is likely to be arrested at the airport and probably jailed and tortured – or murdered by a homophobic mob.”
Ms Namigadde’s solicitor put in a fresh asylum claim this week, which the UK Border Agency is expected to respond to today.
The decision may well come at the last moment, although Ms Namigadde’s supporters are still urging Ms May to use her power to halt the deportation order.