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 May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid