Ugandan Lesbian Facing Certain Deportation Death Wins Temporary Reprieve


Posted on January 28th, 2011 by Katherine Franke

Tanya Domi

More from Tanya Domi on Ugandan:

Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde tonight won a temporary reprieve from likely deportation to Uganda – and subsequent certain death — when a British High Court judge granted an injunction temporarily staying her scheduled deportation to Kampala, on the same day slain gay rights leader David Kato was buried in his ancestral home of Namataba, Uganda.

Read: “David Kato’s Death Result Of Hatred Planted By U.S. Evangelicals

Namigadde had already boarded the aircraft at Heathrow International Airport when the injunction came down from the High Court, according to a late-breaking report by The Guardian. Namigadde is scheduled to appear in a hearing before the High Court tomorrow morning. Numerous members of the UK Parliament and Andy Slaughter, the shadow justice minister, expressed “grave concern” over the fate of Namigadde, who lives in his constituency.

Namigadde claims she is afraid for her personal safety and feels her life will be over if she is forced to return to Uganda, arguably the most homophobic country on the continent of Africa, fueled by the overt influence of extreme right-wing American Christian evangelicals known as “The Family,” exposed in 2008 by author Jeff Sharlet.

But it appears at this late hour the government of Prime Minister David Cameron led by Tory-Liberal Party coalition, declined to send Namigadde back to Uganda, despite their professed doubts about her sexual orientation. In the last 48 hours, the UK’s  highest ranking relgious leader Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Roland Williams, condemned the murder of Kato and urged the British government to offer protection to gay and lesbian people seeking asylum in England.

International pressure was also ramped up Wednesday in a quickly-formed transatlantic joint collaboration between All Out in Britain and GetEQUAL in the U.S., who combined their organizational prowess and online operations by soliciting signatures from around the world by supporters to a statement calling on U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May to stop Namigadde’s deportation. All Out and GetEQUAL claim at least 40,000 signatures representing 160 countries.

GetEQUAL declared a temporary victory, issuing a statement at 5:55 p.m. EST under managing director Heather Cronk’s signature, stating, “After a few really tenuous days and a really close call, Brenda Namigadde has been granted a temporary reprieve! The details are still coming in, but Brenda has left Heathrow airport in London and is returning home. She’s not out of the woods, but we’re thrilled that YOUR pressure has bought her some extra time for legal wrangling and, hopefully, safety.”

Talk about a close call!  As of 5 p.m. GMT in London, the UK  Border Agency issued the following statement directly to The New Civil Rights Movement on behalf of Matthew Coats, Head of Immigration:

“Ms Namigadde’s case has been carefully considered by both the UK Border Agency and the courts on two separate occasions and she has been found not to have a right to remain here. An Immigration Judge found on the evidence before him that Ms Namigadde was not homosexual.

“The Government has made it clear that it is committed to stopping the removal of asylum seekers who have genuinely had to leave particular countries because of their sexual orientation or gender identification. However, when someone is found not to have a genuine claim we expect them to leave voluntarily.”

When this reporter pressed the media officer for a statement beyond a prepared one, he declined. It would have been unimaginable to deport Namigadde, whose legal counsel has submitted three affidavits signed by family members attesting to her lesbian sexual orientation, to the UK’s border agency. Namigadde fled Uganda after her relationship with a Canadian woman was discovered a number of years ago. They were both beaten and their house was burned down in retribution for being in a lesbian relationship.

Ironically, in reviewing the Home Office’s website, this reporter discovered a golden nugget of information that perhaps bodes well for Namigadde’s future in the UK: Stonewall, a national gay and lesbian organization in Britain, recently awarded the UK Home Office its Equality Index award for the best workplace in the country for lesbian, gay and bisexual people to work. The Home Office has the Stonewall award press release proudly posted on its website.

Lastly and quite deliciously, GetEQUAL also annouced in their victory statement that they are organizing a ”Breakfast without Bigotry” in honor of “The Family” on Februry 3, on the occasion of the National Prayer Breakfast to be held at the Washington, D.C. Hilton Hotel.  Anyone choosing to attend The Family’s annual breakfast better be prepared for indigestion and a dish of shame.

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member.  Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

This post is cross-posted from The New Civil Rights Movement blog.

11 comments

  1. Ugandan Lesbian Facing Certain Deportation Death Wins Temporary Reprieve http://wp.me/ploC4-Sm

  2. Katherine

    there’s no evidence that the campaign won the reprieve as it was an appeal court judge who decided for it after another had turned down her fresh claim. No evidence at all of any Home Office action to say that the case deserved a fresh look.

    As you note, there was evidence she is lesbian and we have independent evidence as well. In these circumstances the system is majorly broken if there is a real questionmark over her being lesbian yet they are prepared to remove her and the government stands by.

  3. RT @GenderSexLaw: Ugandan Lesbian Facing Certain Deportation Death Wins Temporary Reprieve http://wp.me/ploC4-Sm

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