Home Secretary receives pleas not to deport endangered Ugandan

By staff writers
28 Jan 2011

Human rights advocates are urging the British Government to halt the deportation of Brenda Namigadde, aged 29, who fled Uganda eight years ago after violence and threats against her and her partner Janet Hoffman, a Canadian who worked for an NGO based in Uganda.

The recent murder of the Ugandan gay activist David Kato considerably increases the likelihood that her own life is in danger if she is returned to Uganda, they say.

David Bahati, the Ugandan MP, whose bill would impose the death penalty on homosexuals in some circumstances, has warned her of arrest if she returns to Uganda and does not 'repent' of her homosexuality.

Ms Namigadde was among those protesting against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, at the Ugandan Embassy in 2009. She says she was photographed during these protests and that her name and picture, along with that of others, have been published in Uganda.

Her asylum claim was turned down partly because the judge did not believe there was any evidence that she was a lesbian.

Her solicitors had been promised that a new asylum claim filed by them on her behalf would be reviewed prior to any removal. A UK High Court judge yesterday granted an injunction temporarily preventing the deportation. Nevertheless, Ms Namigadde's situation is still of grave concern.

A campaign has drawn more than 50,000 people to send letters to Home Secretary Theresa May, increasing pressure on her to "do the right thing", say Ms Namigadde's supporters.

Yesterday morning, friends in London delivered a giant copy of the letter in front of press to Number 10 Downing Street, prior to the High Court decision.

The Rev Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), said: “ We call upon the British Government to act justly and compassionately in Brenda’s case. It should be obvious to anyone that in the wake of David Kato’s murder her life is now in even greater danger if she is returned to Uganda."

She continued: "The authorities here may not consider that there is sufficient evidence that she is homosexual but there is no such reluctance on the part of David Bahati and the Ugandan Government. Bahati’s declaration of her immediate arrest upon return to Uganda alone should settle the matter for the authorities here in the UK.

"As a campaigning organisation LGCM calls for justice to be done. As a Christian organisation, and in the light of current debates about the place of Christianity in the public sphere, we call upon the government to apply the Christian principles of mercy and compassion,” declared Ms Ferguson.

On the death of David Kato, the LGCM chief executive said: “We are deeply saddened and appalled by this tragic and completely pointless death. David was a man of immense courage and an example to all LGBT people and others fighting for human rights and dignity across the globe."

“We recognise with much sadness and a sense of outrage the Christian dimension to much of the homophobia which exists in Uganda, some of which has been fueled in recent times by American evangelicals.

“That said, it is important to remember that David himself was a deeply committed Christian as are many of the LGBT people with whom he worked and for whom he gave his life. And in spite of the severe penalties for LGBT people in Uganda there are heterosexual Christians prepared to stand up for the rights and dignity of their LGBT sisters and brothers.”

More on the Brenda Namigadde campaign, and to sign the letter of support, go to: http://www.allout.org/brenda

[Ekk/3]

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