Thursday, January 27, 2011

Seeking Asylum from Persecution

A Ugandan woman, Brenda Namigadde, fled her home country eight years ago to the United Kingdom because she was being persecuted for being a lesbian. She and her partner were beaten, spat upon, had their home burnt to the ground, and were nearly killed on numerous occasions.  Disheartened, bruised, and fearful for her life, Namigadde fled to Britain, and her partner to Canada. Before Namigadde's departure, however, a chilling warning came from Ugandan MP and "born again Christian" David Bahiti: repent and change, or be arrested upon her return to the country, which now has proposed a legal bill that would impose severe punishment upon any discovered homosexual. If the legislation passes, consenting adults who have gay sexual relations will be at least imprisoned for life, if not put to death, and those who have HIV as a result will be automatically sentenced to death. The offense is termed "aggravated homosexuality."

Once again, Namigadde is on the run. Her asylum has now been turned down by the border agency of the United Kingdom and the courts on two separate occasions, and she now faces deportation back to Uganda.  A judge found no reasonable evidence to conclude that Namigadde is in fact a homosexual. Fearful of certain torture and death because of her sexual identity, Namigadde faces immediate arrest upon her landing at the Entebbe Airport in Uganda. This crisis arises just weeks after the brutal murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato, known as grandfather of the Kuchus, the name that homosexuals in Uganda have bestowed upon themselves.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as written by the United Nations, Article 14: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution." Additionally, Article 5 states that, "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Clearly, Namigadde has not been able to securely find asylum in the United Kingdom and according to the the standards set fourth by the United Nations, upon her return to Uganda, inhuman treatment awaits. Due to her sexuality, this woman faces torture and death. Article 2 of the UDHR states that "Everyone is entitled to all of the rights and freedoms set fourth in this Declaration..."

Why, then, are people being denied these freedoms and securities simply on the basis of their sexuality? Is this not a violation of human rights at the very least? If the Ugandan government is by some stretch justified in the new bill, how does this not violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How does this legislation not violate human rights as we know them? It would seem that immediate action is necessary to save not only Ms. Namigadde from these horrendous violations, but also to save the lives of many other innocent victims from positively inhuman treatment based on something as trivial as sexuality. This is not simply a matter of civil rights, no; this is far beyond a matter of "civility".

Here is the article. Ugandan lesbian awaits deportation


  1. The implications of your argument are profound. Consider this, as the largest former colonial power the UK is the first choice for most asylum seekers in the Commonwealth, from Pakistan to Uganda. If the UK were to grant haven to every asylum seeker the burden on social service, education and likely the criminal justice systems would exceed their respective abilities.
    Immigration is a delicate issue in the UK, evidenced by the growth in popularity of the BNP, post-9/11 culture and the burden immigration placed on every economy during the global recession. Soon after occupying Downing Street last spring, the Cameron coalition placed harsh caps on immigration to curb excess spending.
    Few people condone violence and abuse but to get carried away with ideas like this is as unrealistic as Utopia. I hope you find it but in the meantime I think we must cling to sound reason and pragmatism. The UK is simply exercising its sovereign right to deny citizenship.

  2. Right, but in Uganda are there no violations occurring? What about the bill?


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