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Tuesday, 25 January 2011

UK preparing to put asylum seeking Ugandan lesbian "in real danger”

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by WatchThatPage.com

By Paul Canning

8.30 pm GMT, 28 January: Brenda has lost appeal for fresh claim. Final legal stop is if a Court of Appeal judge will reconsider. Activists are calling Virgin Atlantic to refuse to carry her on flight VS671 (Nairobi).
9.30 pm: The appeal court judge has granted a temporary injunctions stopping her removal.

Brenda Namigadde wins second chance, no thanks to Theresa May

British judge's ruling on Brenda Namigadde: ignorant but typical

Next hearing, Monday 7 February, Royal Courts of Justice.


A 22,452 strong petition for Brenda Namigadde was delivered to Theresa May MP, Home Secretary at the Home Office in London, Friday 28 January at 12.30pm.
More pictures from the vigil and petition delivery

  • Ugandan lesbian asylum seeker threatened with removal by UK today
  • 'Kill the gays' bill author sends her message: she should "repent and reform" or be imprisoned - she won't
  • Placed like other lesbian asylum seekers in fast track
  • Are new rules on treating such cases being applied?
  • Action alert: how you can help, sign petition
  • Guardian, Huffington Post, BBC, CNN coverage - Metro cover
  • Over 60,000 sign petition from 85 countries: 'deluge' of email
  • Leading Ugandan LGBTI activist killed, presumed murdered 
  • Does Foreign Office want Brenda saved, to weaken anti-gay Ugandan MP Bahati? 
  • Shadow Home Secretary told 'case is to be looked at again'
  • London Ugandan embassy vigil 
  • Bombshell info on why Brenda's lesbianism rejected 
  • Government DID refuse to intervene, ignoring campaign 
  • MP submits motion for Brenda to House of Commons

Updating, scroll to end

The author of Uganda's notorious 'kill the gays' bill has contacted a US journalist to pass the message to a lesbian asylum seeker to return home - but to stop being homosexual or she will be arrested.

Uganda-born student, Brenda Namigadde, 29, is currently detained in Yarl's Wood immigration removal centre and has a removal order for this Friday, 28 January. Asylum has been refused on grounds she is not believed to be lesbian and she has been placed in 'fast track. A fresh claim for asylum with new evidence was put in yesterday.

In an astonishing interview with the bill's author, David Bahati MP, Melanie Nathan of LezGetReal relates how Bahati contacted her, concerned about how Namigadde might be effecting Uganda's image.


Writes Nathan:
Bahati said he read [my] piece about Brenda Namigadde where I quoted him and that he was calling to tell me to give Brenda a message. The author of the anti-gay legislation said that the legislation will be presented to the Ugandan Parliament in the next few weeks. Homosexuality is considered a crime in Uganda as being against the order of nature. The new Bill by Bahati seeks to affirm its criminalization and also calls for the death penalty in certain circumstances.

He told me that Brenda should stop bad mouthing Uganda; that she would be welcome back to Uganda if she renounced her homosexuality and if she “repented.” I asked him if he based this ideal upon religious beliefs and he said “yes” that he did. I asked what if Brenda did not have the same belief as he did?  I asked what if she did not believe that she could repent? He affirmed then she would be tried as a criminal.

After speaking to Mr. Bahati, I realize that he believes that Ms. Namigadde is indeed a lesbian. This serves only to enhance the danger she is in and flies in the face of the UK assertion that she may not have proved that she is a lesbian. She is indeed in danger.

It was astounding to me that David Bahati would call to comment on this case and the very fact that he did is indicative of the danger that Brenda faces.

He seemed to be very concerned about Uganda’s image and that she should not portray “her country as bad.” I believe that this adds to her danger.

Bahati said that Uganda is not harassing Brenda but rather it would be enforcing the law. I questioned him about the law itself and mentioned that the western world did not agree that homosexuality was not a human right as he had told me previously. I told him that the UK and the USA would expect Uganda to adhere to the terms of the Declaration of Human Rights and that if he could not see it that way that there would be every reason to grant her asylum abroad.

He did not agree.
Bahati also said that Brenda should be returned to Uganda “so that she can repent, and be reformed.” He said she has nothing to fear “so long as she abandons her homosexuality, she has the choice.”

Fast tracked

David Bahati MP
Brenda is in the 'fast track' system for considering asylum claims. A removal 20 January was only avoided due to a mix up with passenger lists. She is now detained at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre.

The placing of sexuality-based asylum claims in the 'fast track' system has been heavily criticized. In a review of 50 cases UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) found that 98% had been initially rejected, a significantly higher rate than for other claims. This made them more likely to be placed in 'fast track where applicants and their lawyers had much less time to prepare an appeal, for, it is argued, often complex claims to be properly considered.

By coincidence the Conservative MP for Brighton, Kemptown, Simon Kirby, asked the Immigration Minister, Damien Green MP, in the House of Commons yesterday about whether he had given consideration "to the participation of (a) women and (b) lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in the detained fast-track procedure."

Green replied:
"Entry to the detained fast-track procedure is determined by reference to published policy available on the UK Border Agency website. The policy lays out categories of claimant who, for reasons of particular vulnerability such as late pregnancy, children or serious disability, are excluded from entry to the process. For all other claimants, the key factor determining entry to the process is whether a quick, fair and sustainable decision can be taken on the case."

"We do not intend to specifically add to an exclusion list all applicants on the basis of claimed or accepted gender, gender identity or sexuality. However, if on a case by case basis, any claimants from these groups are identified as having a claim of particular complexity, the general consideration referred to previously regarding amenability to a quick, fair and sustainable decision will apply."
Translation: we don't accept that these cases are complex.

In another current Ugandan asylum case, still being appealed,  gay man Garrick Nyeswa was told in his rejection letter that “there is no evidence to confirm that homosexuals are persecuted in Uganda.”

According to the Home Office's website, the latest 'country information' (known as COI and provided to Border Agents and used to make decisions) is from February 2009.

There has been consistent criticism of the quality of COI. As several reports have found, COI reports on persecution in individual countries is partial, inaccurate and misleading as well as out of date. It often conflicts with the Foreign Office assessment of the risks to UK LGBT citizens visiting the same country as well as information in the Foreign Office Human Rights Report.

During the election, then Conservative leader and now Prime Minister, David Cameron told me:
It's also important that the guidance the Home Office produces for asylum adjudicators to use in judging claims provides up-to-date and accurate information on homophobic persecution in every country.
The fresh claim for Brenda is partly on the basis of the new information of the deteriorating situation for lesbians and gays in Uganda, which appears to have been ignored in the assessment of her claim.

In a letter provided as evidence for the fresh claim, Dr. Warren Throckmorton, a professor from Pennsylvania who has been following and publishing on developments in Uganda for some years, says that the bill Bahati has proposed:
“Would impose the death penalty on repeat offenders of homosexuality and life in prison on those who even attempted to engage in same sex relations. The bill is still before the committee there and the author of the bill and the chair of the committee responsible for the bill told me recently that after the elections, the bill will be passed by Parliament.” [My emphasis.]
Just this Sunday, Mr. Bahati was quoted in a mainstream Ugandan newspaper, The Monitor, as saying: “this bill provides a god given opportunity for Uganda to provide leadership on this issue and I am more than confident that it will pass.”

Throckmorton says:
“Religious leaders [in Uganda] have incited calls for violence against GBLT people and a newspaper, The Rolling Stone (no relation to the US edition), outed about one-third of the promised “100 top homos” in Uganda# and called for them to be hanged. Although a court stopped the outing campaign, the editor says he will continue to out gays. MP Bahati and prominent pastors Male and Ssempa have publicly spoken in favor of the Hang Them campaign.”

“Prominent pastor, Julius Oyet said on British television that once the bill is passed, then the imprisonments will start. Rev. Oyet was deputized by MP Bahati to collect signatures calling for the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.”
He adds of Brenda, “I fear she will be in real danger.”

Brenda left Uganda eight years ago, in 2003. She lived together with her partner, a Canadian woman, Janet, but they were threatened and her house attacked by fire, and consequently both fled Uganda. Janet went back to Canada and Brenda came to the UK as a student.

She says:
"Our relationship led us to be sworn at, threatened. Even the house where we were living was hurt [people tried to set it on fire], so we had to live in hiding for a month. Janet had to go back to Canada, the last time I saw here was in 2003. I've been in the U.K. for eight years, applied for asylum last year for human protection."

"I'll be tortured or killed if I'm sent back to Uganda. They've put people like me to death there."
Brenda's claim has been rejected at least in part on the basis that she is not believed to be a lesbian. This is believed to relate to the fact that she 'came out' late in life. Her former Canadian partner has been found but has, thus far, not commented on Brenda's plight.

Unsafe to return

New guidance for Border Agency staff on sexuality-based claims, updated following a Supreme Court decision last July, says in that the four 'tests' laid down by the Court on which someone should be granted asylum are:
a) Is the applicant gay or someone who would be treated as gay by potential persecutors in the country of origin?
b) If yes, would gay people who live openly be liable to persecution in that country of origin?
c) How would the applicant behave on return? If the applicant would live openly and be exposed to a real risk of persecution, he has a well-founded fear of persecution even if he could avoid the risk by living discreetly.
d) If the applicant would live discreetly, why would he live discreetly? If the applicant would live discreetly because he wanted to do so, or because of social pressures (e.g. not wanting to distress his parents or embarrass his friends) then he is not a refugee. But if a material reason for living discreetly would be the fear of persecution that would follow if he lived openly, then he is a refugee.
The Coalition government agreement says (page 18):
"We will stop the deportation of asylum seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution."

Action alert

An international petition has being prepared for Brenda. Please sign!

Joseph Huff-Hannon, campaigner with All Out, a global LGBT campaign organization, who are creating the petition, said:
"Brenda Namigadde's case highlights the continuing mismatch between policy and practice for LGBT asylum seekers in the UK, for whom the UK Supreme Court has laid out specific protections. All Out is launching an urgent global campaign to halt Brenda's imminent deportation to Uganda, where the current situation for LGBT people is especially dangerous."
Update, 26 February: Over 1000 at time of writing have signed the petition, which sends a message to the Home Secretary, Theresa May.

Her story has featured today in:
The Uganda Correspondent article quotes an anonymous Border Agency official casting doubt on the credibility of Brenda’s claim:
“…We don’t live in a bubble on a different planet. While I cannot comment on this individual case, we know that there are many opportunists who jump on any bandwagon to claim asylum here. As the law stand today, fear of homophobic attacks is not a valid ground to claim asylum in Britain”, the official said.
NB: as noted above, fear of homophobic attacks is a valid ground to claim asylum in Britain

A gay Ugandan friend of LGBT Asylum News spoke with Brenda today. He said:
"she is really in terrible state.  She is crying and you just don't know what to ask her."
The Guardian spoke with Bahati. He told them:
"Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn't want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals."

Asked what would happen if she did not "repent" he said: "If she is caught in illegal practices she will be punished. If she comes to promote homosexuality, if she is caught in the act, if she is caught in illegal acts, she will be punished. I would be surprised, if she was promoting homosexuality, if she were not arrested."
Activist David Kato, RIP
Bahati again repeated that the death penalty could be dropped from the Anti-Homosexuality bill.

Her lawyer Alex Oringa, told The Guardian:
"The moment she arrives at Entebbe airport she will be arrested. They will detain her and you never know what happens in detention. They think she has humiliated the Ugandan government."
The UK Border Agency,  told The Guardian:
"Ms Namigadde's case has been carefully considered by both the UK Border Agency and the courts and she has been found not to have a right to remain here. She has submitted further representations and these will be reviewed by the UK Border Agency prior to any removal."
The European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights today wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May on Brenda's behalf.

Demonstrating the dangers, today a well-known activist, Advocacy and Litigation officer Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs in the Rolling Stone tabloid 'outing' lawsuit, David Kato, was beaten to death today, according to activist Frank Mugisha.

A reader says that they spoke to the Foreign Office today and was told:
"They want Bahati 'weakened' and agreed with me that saving Debra [sic] would help to achieve that end (given the Bahati has tried to 'woo' her)."
The shadow (Labour Party) Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has been asked to intervene.

Update, 27 January: The news of David Kato's death has - extremely unfortunately - pushed Uganda LGBT back up the news agenda. Articles covering his death are including Brenda's pending removal.

BBC and CNN have contacted with regard to TV reports.

According to CorneliusEacott:, journalist and editor, tomorrow's front page of the Metro, a free newspaper widely distributed on London public transport and in other big British cities:
calls for the secure release of Brenda Namigadde, who faces deportation - and a likely murder #allout.org/brenda
    The petition has now generated 10,000 messages to Theresa May from 80 countries.

    All Out cofounder Andre Banks told the Advocate that representatives with the Home Secretary’s office told him they had received a deluge of mail in support of Namigadde over the past 24 hours. 
      Text of letter from the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights to Home Secretary Theresa May. They say:
      In addition to the ‘Anti-Homosexuality Bill’, recent developments have included the publication of lists of presumed homosexuals, and subsequent attempts to lynch people mentioned in this list and attack their propriety.

      There is no better-known, clearer, or more certain a fate for LGBT people than in Uganda.
      The British Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has called on the British government to abandon attempts to deport gay people to Uganda.

      The UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group told pinknews.co.uk that the UK government must ensure that LGBT asylum seekers are given the help they need, rather than being sent home.

      Executive director Phil Jones said:
      “This shocking murder demonstrates once again that Uganda remains an oppressive and unsafe country for lesbians and gay men.

      “The UK government must ensure that Ugandan lesbians and gay men who have fled to the UK are given the protection they need, and not returned to be the next victims of violent homophobia.”
      Brenda told pinknews.co.uk that she said she did not know why her claim had been rejected, saying:
      “I have all the evidence [that I am gay] but they are denying it. I don’t know.”
      She told The Advocate:
      “I gave them all the evidence. I provided everything,” she said. “They don’t believe me.”
      In response to Bahati's call for her to "repent and reform" or be imprisoned:
      “I’m not going to repent, because that’s who I am. David Bahati is going to put a death penalty on me.”
      She told them that she has no family members or friends in Uganda. She has not spoken to her Canadian partner, Janet, since about 2004, one year after they fled Uganda.
      “Nowhere to live, nowhere to stay, nowhere to be safe,” she said. “I can’t move out from the country. My life is in danger. I’m going to be killed. I can’t be going back to Uganda.”
      She said she would refuse to comply with her removal, even if that means she is forcibly removed.

      Her lawyer, Alex Oringa, said the fresh claim submitted at the beginning of the week - the only legal method to stop the removal apart from an instruction from the Home Secretary included an affidavit from two of her relatives to confirm her sexuality.

      Oringa said he was "very worried" for her safety. "It is deadly. The moment she arrives at Entebbe airport she will be arrested. They will detain her and you never know what happens in detention. They think she has humiliated the Ugandan government."

      Speaking with The Guardian Brenda said she has always intended to return home when "things were better". But things, she says, have just got worse.

      She gives more details on th persecution she suffered which forced her to flee:
      Growing up as a devout Christian in a country where homosexuality is a crime, Namigadde says she was used to keeping her sexuality a secret from her family and her church and the wider community.

      But when she was 17, she fell in love and began a relationship with Janet Hoffman, a Canadian woman who worked for an NGO. Once their relationship was discovered, they were beaten, threatened and their home was burnt down.

      "They would point and shout at us in the street. They would swear or say 'You lesbians, that is disgusting it is against nature. Heaven will not accept you'.

      "One day when we were walking in Kampala, someone saw us and they started pointing at us. Others gathered and quickly there were 50 people all screaming at us. They were swearing and pointing and we were very scared. But a taxi came around and we managed to get away."

      When it became known they were gay, she says, they were thrown out of their church. "People who were against gays got to know where we lived. One night, when we arrived home, people jumped out at us from the bushes, they had masks on and they began beating us with sticks. I still have scars on my ankle.

      "We had to go to hospital. I had wounds on my legs and because Janet is white, you could see bruises all over her body. She reported it to the police but they did not take any action. It is forbidden in the country. She is older than me and she was bold, but she said to me: 'I can't take this.' "

      They went into hiding at a friend's house but during that time Namigadde's house was burnt down. "I looked at that house and I felt it was the end of the world. Janet said to me: "We have to do something."

      Hoffman helped Namigadde escape to Britain, where she has an uncle, while she fled to Canada. Since then, Namigadee has been involved with protests against the Anti-Homosexual Bill in Uganda, at the Ugandan Embassy in 2009. She says that she and her uncle were photographed there and the protesters' names and pictures have been published in Uganda.

      "I thought that things would get better in Uganda. I was waiting for a chance to return. But now, with David Kato's murder, with the Bill – it is much worse."
      In response to learning of the murder of David Kato she told The Advocate:
      “It makes me feel very bad. It’s really very scary to go back to Uganda. My life is gone as well. I am in danger. [Kato] is the one who was trying to stand for people.”
      “I’m not feeling well at all, just worried. There is no hope. I am so broken.”
      A vigil in memory of David Kato at 11am (to coincide with David' funeral) at the Ugandan High Commission, Trafalgar Sq., London tomorrow (28 January), organised by The Stop AIDS Campaign of the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development, will also demand that Brenda not be removed.
      Cover of today's Metro newspaper
      Update, January 28: today is Brenda's removal day. She is booked to Entebbe, Uganda via Nairobi, Kenya at 21.20 hrs on Flight VS671 (Virgin) and then KQ412 (Kenya Airways).

      The UK Border Agency should respond today to the fresh claim for asylum put in by her solicitor on Monday. This may happen at the last moment (when we know we will publish, most likely first to our Twitter). But, the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, does have the power to stop the removal if the fresh claim is not accepted.

      The allout.org petition which sends email messages to Theresa May is now over 30,000 and is adding many thousands every hour. Her office has said they are "deluged." As well many hundreds, if not more, supporters have sent individual emails and there is at least one other petition.

      The petition was delivered to May at 12.30pm today.

      A vigil in memory of murdered Ugandan activist David Kato at 11am today (to coincide with David's funeral) at the Ugandan High Commission, demanded that Brenda not be removed.

      A number of shadow front bench Labour MPs are understood to be lobbying Theresa May and are also understood to be preparing a statement.

      The Metro newspaper, which is distributed free at all London tube stations and in 14 other British cities mainly via public transport facilities, and has 3.5m readers, has Brenda's story on the cover.

      The BBC's premier news program, Newsnight, covered Brenda in their coverage of the murder of David Kato last night and will follow up with Brenda's story tonight.

      Brenda was interviewed by the BBC World Service last night. [AUDIO]

      One of the world's most read bloggers, Perez Hilton, has covered Brenda. He cites The Advocate's article and uses the unfortunate title 'Gay Ungandan Woman Being Forced Back To Country Despite Violent Homophobic Murders!'

      Hilton says:
      Stay strong, Brenda. All hope is not lost yet.
      There are now dozens if not hundreds of blog posts about Brenda.

      One blogger, Fiona Douglas, a twenty-year-old Cambridge medical student from Maidenhead, currently in New Zealand, happens to be a constituent of Mrs May. Douglas wrote to May:
      Her “actual” sexual orientation has now become utterly irrelevant: The Ugandan authorities believe she is a lesbian, and with regard to her safety when she returns to Uganda, that is all that matters. Some Immigration Judge saying that he “found on the evidence before him that Ms Namigadde was not homosexual” is not going to matter one jot. She says she is gay, and that is what the Ugandan government will believe.

      3) The high profile which this case has now attained means that she is at even greater risk of being targeted by the Ugandan government and made an example of. The case of David Kato is just one example of where this has already happened.
      Other new coverage:
      The BBC quotes Matthew Coats, head of immigration at the UK Border Agency, saying: "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."
      As we have extensively reported, almost all of a sample of cases examined by UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group were initially thrown out, so Brenda's case could properly be said to have only been examined once. (There is no evidence to suggest that the rate of rejection has changed since the report was published 12 months ago. Anecdotal evidence is of an increase in challeges to whether claimants are gay or not.) The Tribunal hearing was missed by two witnesses who would speak to her sexuality - so on the basis of two people missing a hearing the risk will be taken to return her to a country where it is patently unsafe to be a lesbian? There was other evidence presented by Brenda, including sworn statements.

      As we note above, 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': 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.

      Peter Tatchell has 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.

      "It would be very wrong and dangerous to send Brenda back to a country where homosexuality is punishable by life imprisonment and where MPs have drafted a new law to execute gay people. One of the Ugandan MPs who is pushing for the death penalty has singled out Brenda for public condemnation. She is being targeted.

      "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."
      Warren Throckmorton has rounded up the dismissive or vile reactions of anti-gay forces in Uganda to the death of David Kato.

      One report from Kato's funeral said:
      "The priest/pastor has just gone into a diatribe calling for the salvation of all queer folk and how they should all stop doing the evil they do. Naomi and Kasha and some other activists are now confronting him. David is not even in the ground and the hate speech continues at his funeral!"
        LezGetReal reports that the American LGBT activist group GetEQUAL has written to its members urging support for Brenda. Both also call on readers to contact the US State Department’s Uganda and UK desks.

        You may have noticed that we have removed the picture which was at the top of the page. It was incorrectly identified as Brenda. The Guardian has also published a correction.

        Early in the evening The Guardian published an update. It included this quote from the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper:
        "I understand that Brenda Namigadde's case is being looked at again. LGBT people in Uganda have faced arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and ill treatment, and the new plans for even more homophobic laws are deeply worrying. The UK Border Agency's operational guidance for Uganda is now nearly two years old and does not mention LGBT rights. It needs to be updated as fast as possible to reflect the current situation on the ground."
        Reporter Karen McVeigh also points out that:
        New guidance issued to UKBA staff on claims based on sexuality, following a supreme court ruling on the issue last July, recommends they consider not just whether an applicant is gay but whether they are "someone who would be treated as gay by potential persecutors in the country of origin".

        Reminded of such guidance, a spokeswoman for the Home Office said that it would have been used when deciding on Namigadde's case and referred to a statement made yesterday.
        Andy Slaughter, the shadow justice minister and Brenda's MP, expressed "grave concern" over her fate.

        He said:
        "Whatever the circumstances surrounding Ms Namigadde's presence in Britain, it is clear that she cannot be deported to Uganda at present. Both the public mood and the official stance towards homosexuals in Uganda are lethal at the moment – we should not be contemplating sending my constituents back to a society where she will be in grave danger of her life.

        "I call upon Damian Green to intervene personally to halt this deportation immediately and suspend the removal notice against my constituent, until we can find a resolution to this case that does not involve sending Ms Namigadde to face certain persecution and possible death."
        Update, 29 January: We have documented the events of yesterday, and editorialised about how Brenda's case reached the point it did, in this post. Brenda has not won, her case still needs to be argued, but this gives her an opportunity to do so which the system would otherwise have not allowed her. As we quote our colleague Melanie Nathan of LezGetReal saying in regard to Brenda's ordeal, it amounted to "psychological torture."

        BBC Newsnight haven't yet put the video of last night's report on Brenda's case and more generally on the situation of LGBT asylum seekers, which features Ugandan refugee John Bosco, online.

        Yesterday the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowman Williams, said that David Kato's death:
        "Makes it all the more urgent for the British government to secure the safety of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities."
        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. 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."
        Neil Grungras, Executive Director of ORAM said in response to Kato's death:
        "We urge the U.S. and all nations of conscience to act affirmatively now to protect Ugandans who fear persecution for their sexual orientation.  This includes granting refugee protection to all those who manage to escape the terror.”
        Major US liberal magazine The Nation covered Brenda yesterday. Towleroad also reported. Dallas Voice. Montreal Gazette. Estadão. Giornalettismo. As did many others.

        Yesterday we fielded numerous media inquiries. Here's one which resulted in an interview for Canadian national radio (CBC). It's in the middle of part 2.

        Comments on Daily Mail story
        Update, January 30: The New York Times published an astonishingly inaccurate report on Brenda on Friday, which we've only just seen.

        The Mail On Sunday has produced a straightforward report. It quotes Rowan Williams and talks about David Kato. It has attracted predictable comments (see right) but also one from fellow Ugandan lesbian refugee Prossy Kakooza. She wrote:
        "As a lesbian who is now a refugee in UK this is absolutely heart breaking. I knew Mr Kato. He put his life at risk daily to fight for rights of the likes of me. Getting asylum in UK is not easy and can be victimizing. I came here within a day of being raped and burnt really badly. I went to a walk in center for help for my wounds, they were so shocked they called the police. I got a full medical report from a rape referral center and the police took forensic photos of my wounds. The medical team agreed what i said corresponded with my extensive wounds. But i was refused asylum and told to go back to Uganda and relocate to another city. I had to go through court a number of times and asked to give details of my rape all the time despite having doctors letters from here in the UK. I had to do a public campaign which the British people helped a lot and surported me. I won in the end and i thank you British people for that. Not the system. I love you British people. You saved my life.xxxx"
        Not the ones who 'red flagged' Prossy's comment.

        BBC Newsnight hasn't put up video of Friday's report by Liz McKean. UK residents can view it on iplayer until Friday.

        Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture have published an update to their page on LGBT asylum seekers which covers the appalling treatment of other Ugandan LGBT asylum seekers. It relates Ugandan Anna's story, which is very similar to that of Brenda and of another Ugandan lesbian Prossy Kakooza.

        Anna* says:
        "The asylum process is hard. Explaining yourself to a stranger and to someone who you know is going to judge you is difficult - I’ve been judged since the age of 13. I don’t know what I would have done if I wasn’t strong willed. Once your asylum claim has been refused, you are expected to live in the harshest of conditions. Perhaps they think that you’ll leave that way but I have no future to go home to - my girlfriend was murdered, my parents are no longer alive and the only family I have are my friends that I’ve made here in the UK.  If I do have to leave the UK, I know they’ll kill me back in Uganda and I am ready for it but I want to at least live a little while longer yet".
        The UK political gossip website Political Scrapbook this morning leaked the full judgment rejecting Brenda's fresh claim to pinknews.co.uk (overturned soon after by an appeal court judge, actually whilst Brenda was on the plane). Political Scrapbook highlights the judge's point that he was rejecting her in part because she didn’t read lesbian magazines or other media.
        Update, Monday 31 January: Brenda has a hearing on whether her fresh claim will be accepted on Wednesday. If this is lost then new removal instructions will be prepared, with a probable date within a fortnight. The Home Office has the power to accept her fresh claim and stop legal proceedings.


        We understand that should the worst happen a reception for her in Kampala and to try to protect her at the airport has been organised with a prominent non-gay Ugandan supporter.

        Further attempts are to be made to trace Brenda's former Canadian lover, Janet Hoffman.


        The New York Times has been asked to correct its inaccurate report from Friday.

        allout.org have confirmed that over 60,000 letters have gone to Home Secretary, Theresa May MP.

        Today in an email to those who supported them, allout said:
        On Wednesday, Brenda will have her asylum claim revisited - the court will decide once and for all to approve or deny her request to live openly and freely in the UK. The situation looks positive with many supporters emerging in her defense, but until Wednesday we’ll be keeping the pressure on Theresa May and the UK government to live up to its promise to prioritize LGBT asylum claims.
        Update, February 1: It has emerged that Immigration Minister Damien Green MP explicitly refused to intervene in Brenda's case in a letter sent to Brenda's MP, Andrew Slaughter, last Friday. Slaughter has asked again.

        Brenda's hearing has, we understand, been moved forward from tomorrow to either Monday 7 February or Wednesday 9 February.

        Activists including Clare Dimyon MBE plan to attend Brenda's hearing on her fresh claim, which we understand is likely to take place at the Removal Centre.

        If Brenda's claim is not allowed to proceed then it is likely she will receive new removal instructions within a fortnight.

        European LGBT organisations are being asked to urge their UK ambassadors to inform the British government that their treatment of this case will effect the image of the UK's attitude to international LGBT rights.

        If you want to send Brenda a message of support you can fax her at Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre on +44 (0)1234 821096.

        The United Reform Church, which represents one hundred thousand people in 1600 congregations, has issued a statement of support for Brenda. Simon Loveitt, the public issues spokesperson of the United Reformed Church, said:
        “Deporting Ms Namigadde to the life-threatening persecution she fled eight years ago because of her sexual orientation is counter to the gospel values of love-informed justice and compassion which Christians subscribe to.”
        “It is also contradicts the tradition of providing sanctuary to persecuted minorities and individuals over centuries in the UK and runs counter to the unanimous judgement of the UK Supreme Court last July, which ruled that homosexual asylum seekers should be granted refugee status if being repatriated would result in them being forced to conceal their sexuality.”
        allout.org's Joseph Huff-Hannon writes about Brenda in this article for Alternet, 'Could You 'Play Gay' if Your Life Depended on it? Asylum Seekers Who Don't 'Act Gay' Enough Being Sent Home to Face Death'

        Update, February 3: It is confirmed that the next hearing is Monday 7 February, Royal Courts of Justice.

        The South Australian MP Ian Hunter has written in support of Brenda to Home Secretary Theresa May. He said:
        "As a well known lesbian Ms Namigadde will face serious threats to her safety should she be returned to Uganda."
        Brenda's MP Andrew Slaughter has put down a motion in the British Parliament supporting Brenda. It reads:
        "That this House is concerned by the imminent proposed deportation of Brenda Namigadde, who has claimed asylum because she fears persecution based on her sexuality; believes the atmosphere in Uganda towards homosexuality, driven by inflammatory rhetoric, puts gay and lesbian citizens at risk; deplores the recent murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato; notes that a politician in Uganda had demanded Ms Namigadde repent or be punished; believes that widespread publicity about Ms Namigadde's sexuality has placed her at severe risk of harm; is worried by persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people around the world; and calls on the Government to exercise its powers to allow Brenda Namigadde to remain in the United Kingdom."
        British people can use the TheyWorkForYou.com to contact their MP and urge them to sign the motion.

        pinknews.co.uk today carries an update, they spoke to Andrew Slaughter who said: “It is a very high-profile case. Her life is potentially at risk.”

        Later today allout.org will launch a fresh push to get the British government to intervene.

        LGBT and refugee activist groups are planning a protest at Stonewall’s 2011 Workplace Conference, which will feature Theresa May, on Friday 18 March outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London. Stonewall ranks the Home Office, which includes UKBA, first in its latest 'equality index'. According to the Home Office, this is, in part, "for accepting Stonewall’s recommendations in new training for asylum caseworkers on how to deal appropriately and sensitively with the claims of lesbian, gay and bisexual people."

        Update, February 4: allout.org has contacted the ~20,000 British people who sent letters via them to Theresa May to sign Andrew Slaughter's Early Day Motion in the House of Commons. They say:
        Our contact in Andy Slaughter’s office has told us that if even just a few dozen MPs sign this motion in the next few days, it will send a powerful message to Theresa May and the Home Office that they must intervene on Brenda’s behalf.  Will you take a moment to ring your MP and ask them to sign on and support Brenda?  It only takes 2 minutes and will make a huge difference:

        1.  Find your MP's number:
        http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/

        2.  Ask them to support Brenda.  Here's a quick script to help:
        “Hello.  My name is (YOUR NAME) and I’m one of (MP NAME)’s constituents.  I’m calling today about the case of Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian who is in danger of being deported to Uganda where she faces grave danger.  

        Please urge (MP NAME) to sign onto Early Day Motion 1385, sponsored by MP Andy Slaughter.  The motion calls on the Government to exercise its powers to allow Brenda Namigadde to remain in the United Kingdom.

        I will continue to follow Brenda’s case closely and urge you to sign the motion today before her hearing at the High Court on Monday.”
        3.  If you make a call, please reply directly to this email and let us know your MP’s response, so we can pass this information on to Brenda and her lawyer. On Monday, we want Brenda to know she still has our support, and we want the court to know how many others in the UK and around the world are standing by her side.
        As of 3pm today, 23 MPs have signed the Early day Motion.

        Update, February 6: The Sunday Telegraph has published court documents from Brenda's appeal to assert that she is not a lesbian. It quotes the judge but does not include the line published earlier about how if she'd read lesbian or gay magazines this might have helped her case. The article does not cover the threats made by David Bahati.

        The article says:
        Despite gay sex being illegal in Uganda, British courts have previously ruled that lesbians were not at risk in the country.

        A High Court judgment handed down in February last year concluded the claimant, known as SB, could return to Uganda and continue to live discreetly as a lesbian without fear of persecution.
        It does not go on to say that this legal precedent on 'discretion' was overturned five months later by the Supreme Court.

        It quotes David Cairns MP, who has signed the Commons motion, after being presented with the Sunday Telegraph's story as saying:
        "If she is deliberately lying in order to stay here that is a very serious issue and she should not be granted asylum on that basis.

        "However, the fact remains that she is clearly in danger if she is deported. She has got herself into the situation, genuinely or otherwise, where she will be marked down as a lesbian in the eyes of many oppressors."
        The Telegraph has an anti-immigration, anti-asylum agenda, which has been well documented by watchdog websites. See, for example, this story from two years ago where the Home Office's failure to apply its own rules became the headline 'cat saves immigrant from deportation'.

        Melanie Nathan at LezGetReal has published a lengthy response to the Telegraph article which she suggests could prejudice Brenda's case. She writes:
        "If anything Barrett [the Telegraph journalist] is endorsing that Brenda’s case was badly prepared; a terrified and traumatized deportee should not be held to the same standards as a person properly prepared. Why does Barrett believe we fought so hard after the fact of the judgment which we knew about – because we were willing to give her a better chance to prove her case. That is all – and now Barrett has done little more than to prejudice and victimize her further."
        The Guardian has published a straightforward round up of her case in advance of tomorrow's application for permission to appeal against the refusal of the high court to grant her permission to claim for judicial review.

        Brenda's supporters will be attending the court tomorrow and any news will be published here as soon as we get it.

        Update, February 7: We have only just become aware of another Ugandan case, Jamal Ali Said, a gay man who has suffered major miscarriages of justice and faced a fourteen year battle to remain in the UK. He faces removal tonight. We understand that he plans to resist. Please look at his appeal and support him.

        Today's legal decision is here. Please note that all future reports as of now will be carried in separate posts.

        27 MPs have now signed EDM 1385, however we understand that several more signatories are yet to appear on parliament's website.

        Update, February 8: Very nasty story in The Sun tabloid newspaper.

        Amongst other things, in a double story headlined 'Asylum lunacy cases', it said:
        The 29-year-old asylum seeker told immigration officials she could not return to Uganda because lesbians are persecuted there.

        But after a judge ruled that he did not believe her, the woman began judicial review proceedings which could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds.

        "Incredibly, Court of Appeal judges yesterday gave her even MORE protection by barring media groups from revealing her name."

        "The ban came despite the woman widely courting publicity and her name being easily available on the internet."
        BH never 'courted' anything. That's mine (and others) 'fault'.
        Lezget Real's Melanie Nathan reports on this news and says:
        "At that time I reported [BH]’s case I  believed her assertion that she was indeed a lesbian and I was horrified that a Judge would have the audacity to say she was not – given many factors of fear, and the need to protect other non-out lesbians; the  Judge did not say “there is no EVIDENCE  to prove she is a lesbian” Instead he determined she was  “NOT a lesbian.” So the harm came from the initial judgment. We were merely reporting the facts….. I had no idea that David Bahati would call me and that it would result in the affidavit I sent to UK Courts on [BH]’s behalf.  It would be a manipulation if indeed I had planned for Bahati to call me; and then how could I manipulate his thinking – the thinking that places [BH] in direct harm and likely to lose her life, like David Kato did, if returned to Uganda."
        Ms. Magazine report today includes this quote from LGBT Asylum News Editor Paul Canning:
        “She hasn’t had a fair chance.  We have been able to find some evidence that she is a lesbian, but she’s in a legal system that is totally stacked against her.”
        36 MPs have now signed EDM 1385.

        Lawyer Peggy Layoo who has acted for BN is profiled in the Law Gazette. She said:
        "The unique factor about claims based on homosexuality is that the claimants have to overcome issues within themselves before they feel confident to come out as a gay person. It’s hard enough for many British citizens to do, and many asylum seekers come from countries were it is illegal to be gay."
        Update, Feb 10: A source has informed LezGetReal that Brenda’s case has caught the attention of Amnesty International; and if the UK refuses her new case, they will plead on her behalf and seek asylum for her elsewhere.

        Update, Feb 11: 74 MPs have now signed the Early Day Motion in the House of Commons.

        Lord Dubs asked the following in the House of Lords:
        To ask Her Majesty's Government why Brenda Namigadde is not covered by their stated policy that they will not deport individuals who are at risk of persecution because they are gay or will be treated as gay.[HL6607]
        The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones):
        Ms Namigadde's case has been carefully considered by both the UK Border Agency and the courts on three separate occasions and she has been found not to have a right to remain here. An immigration judge found on the evidence before them that Ms Namigadde is not homosexual.
        Today a mass of new and detailed evidence on the current state of repression of LGBT in Uganda is being submitted for judicial review, including statements on the threats made by Ugandan MP David Bahati.

        In an interview with the pinknews.co.uk website today the Radio One DK Scott Mills recounts his meeting with Bahati. He was in Uganda filming a documentary for BBC Three ‘The World’s Worst Place to be Gay?’ (which I have advised on).

        The article reports that:
        When the presenter said he was gay, Bahati became enraged and the film crew fled.

        Later, they heard that Bahati had sent armed police to a hotel he thought they were staying at.
        Update, 13 Feb: See Why Ugandan arch-homophobe's threats to 'BN' are very real

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        2 comments:

        1. David Kato is now dead - murdered yesterday.

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