In re Wambere
Update: John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere has been recommended for asylum in the United States. In a letter dated September 11, 2014, the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services informed Wambere that his application was recommended for approval, pending a routine security check. Read more.
John Wambere had an interview August 25, 2014 with an asylum officer at the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services about his application for asylum. In conjunction with the interview and in support of John's application, we submitted the Uganda Country Conditions Report, which can be read here.
GLAD has filed an application for asylum on behalf of John Abdallah Wambere, a prominent Ugandan gay activist who was featured in the documentaries Call Me Kuchu and Missionaries of Hate. We are working in collaboration with Boston immigration attorney Hema Sarang-Sieminski of the Law Office of Hema Sarang-Sieminski.
John was in Massachusetts raising visibility for his work with the LGBTI community in Uganda when on February 24 President Museveni signed into law the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act. This law provides harsh penalties – including life imprisonment - for same-sex relationships, as well as for any activities deemed to “promote homosexuality.”
It is not safe for John to return to Uganda. Even before the bill was signed, John was outed as gay by newspapers, harassed by strangers, evicted from his home, beaten up, and received death threats from anonymous phone calls. Now he also faces life imprisonment should he return.
Wambere has been an activist for fourteen years, as a co-founder of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, through which he has worked to ensure the safety of the LGBTI community, reduce stigma, assist LGBTI Ugandans under arrest, and educate about HIV. Uganda’s LGBTI community has been under escalating public, political, and physical attack in recent years, culminating in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
“This has been a very, very difficult decision for me,” said Wambere in a statement to the media. “I have devoted my life to working for LGBTI people in Uganda, and it gives me great pain not to be with my community, allies, and friends while they are under increasing attack. But in my heart, I know it is my only option, and that I would be of no use to my community in jail.”
How can I help LGBTI people in Uganda?
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Rights, a coalition of Ugandan organizations dedicated to fighting this act, recently published guidelines for international partners on how best to support the work in Uganda. We encourage you to support the work of the Coalition, as well as other Uganda human rights coalitions and organizations, such as Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and Sexual Minorities Uganda
Video of the Press Announcement of the Filing