May 6, 2014
This morning GLAD filed an application for asylum on behalf of John Abdallah Wambere, a prominent Ugandan gay activist. You may be familiar with John’s work, as he has been featured in the documentaries Call me Kuchu and Missionaries of Hate.
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.”
Since the bill’s signing, LGBTI people in Uganda have been arrested, some have gone underground, and others have fled the country. An HIV organization was infiltrated and shut down by police.
The decision to seek asylum was an extremely difficult one for John, who has devoted his life to working for LGBTI people in Uganda. “It gives me great pain not to be with my community, allies, and friends while they are under increasing attack,” he told members of the press this morning.
But it is not safe for John to return to Uganda. Even before the bill was signed, he was outed as gay by newspapers, evicted from his home, beaten up, and received anonymous death threats. Now he also faces life imprisonment.
Anti-gay sentiment in Uganda has been actively promoted by American evangelicals who have travelled to the country to preach and promote legislation like the Anti-Homosexuality Act, and worse.
Now, the United States has an opportunity to provide safer harbor where brave Ugandan individuals like John can continue to speak out and work for change. And as GLAD Staff Attorney Allison Wright told members of the press this morning, we also have an obligation “to work to stop the export of prejudice and denounce the efforts of Americans to spread homophobia in other countries.”
Visit www.glad.org/wambere to learn more about John’s story, and about what you can do to support the work of the Ugandan LGBTI community.
Given the serious danger John faces in Uganda, we are hopeful his application for asylum will be granted quickly. But, with our co-counsel immigration attorney Hema Sarang-Sieminski, we will consider additional levels of review and appeal as needed to work for his safety.
And no matter how long it takes, John is committed to working tirelessly to help his fellow LGBTI Ugandans still at home.