News / Africa

Fear Drives African Gays to Seek Asylum in US

Fear Drives African Gays to Seek Asylum in USi
X
Carla Babb
April 09, 2014 12:01 AM
Homosexuality is a crime in 38 African countries, and new laws in Nigeria and Uganda have increased potential punishments for engaging in gay sex. These strictures have led some gay and transgender Africans to seek asylum in the United States. As VOA’s Carla Babb reports, for many gay and transgender Ugandans, fleeing their country is a matter of life and death.
Carla Babb
Homosexuality is a crime in 38 African countries and new laws in Nigeria and Uganda have increased potential punishments for engaging in gay sex. These strictures have driven some gay and transgender Ugandans to seek asylum in the United States.

"I can tell you that it’s so bad in Uganda. People just don’t know what is happening in Uganda," said Niki Mawanda, who recently fled his African homeland. "I’m worried about what is happening to my people. But I’m also scared that when I go back, I don’t know what will happen to me."

 Mawanda is one of more than 60 Ugandans who have applied for asylum in the U.S. so far this year.

"They staged a big prayer next to my mom’s house praying for me to leave the village, saying that I’m bringing homosexuality on the village," he said. "I don’t want to leave my people, but this time around, I became so scared, so I left."

Gay and transgender asylum seekers from Africa turn to people like Jocelyn Dyer, a lawyer with the group Human Rights First.

"The stakes are much higher," Dyer said. "We’re very concerned that now, with these really repressive laws, a bad situation is going to be made even worse."

Homosexuality is now punishable by death in four African countries and African politics professor Steven Taylor says the penalty for homosexuals in Uganda can be life in prison.

"Which is just as bad as the death penalty, particularly considering the conditions in some prisons," he said.

Death threats and police brutality were among the horrors transgender Ugandan, Victor Mukasa, faced before gaining asylum in the United States less than a year ago.

"I have had people lay their hands, men lay their hands on my genitals, chasing the spirit of homosexuality out of me," Mukasa said. "When you hear the story of the Holocaust and the Jews and that isolation, and people waging war against a particular group of people, this is no different."

That war, as Mukasa calls it, has had its casualties. Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was murdered in 2011. Mukasa, who attened the funeral, says his mourning quickly turned to fear when anti-gay mobs crashed the service.

A friend helped him get a visa and he fled with only a suitcase. But they could not get a visa for his adopted daughter, so he had to leave her with a relative.

“That’s the biggest part of me that I left behind," Mukasa said. "It is always alive. It is a big gap inside me.”

Mukasa and Mawanda keep pushing toward a day when they can reunite with loved ones back home.

“We’re still alive and still passionate about this struggle," Mukasa said, "and so we shall keep fighting, in whichever capacities and where ever we are in the world.”

Mawanda said, “For me, my hope lies in the people of Uganda realizing that we are all Ugandans. I’m hopeful, but my hope is not much.”

For now, Mawanda has months of waiting ahead before he’ll know if he can remain safe on American soil.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Junior Mayema from: Cape Town South Africa
April 09, 2014 5:07 PM
It is actually beyond our beliefs and the true religion the reality of homophobia in africa, we should'nt be killing our fellow human beings in the name of God, we must love our neighbors as ourselves only God can judge us all, being gay is not western invention, neo-colonialism, imperialism, slavery or the new apartheird, being LGBT is about being being human with different sexual orientation or gender identity, it is just like being human with different race, Homophobia is equivalent to racism, apartheid and alll kind of oppression and persecution, please fellow africans stop homophobia today

by: Shadia fatia from: Kampala
April 09, 2014 1:20 PM
Dats better for our children's future

by: Xaaji Dhagax from: Somalia
April 09, 2014 3:47 AM
As an African, wondering what kind of people are we? We all supposed to be great care to our vulnerable people, no matter what. Look, I couldn't care less what Koran or Holy Bible are saying about homosexuals.
It's none of anyone's business about actions between consenting adults behind their closed doors.
COME ON people! we are in 2014!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs