A Ugandan Woman's Desperate Plea
BY Julie Bolcer
January 27 2011 5:20 PM ET
The shocking murder of Uganda gay rights activist David Kato has heightened the urgency surrounding the case of Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian facing deportation from the United Kingdom to the virulently homophobic African country on Friday.
Namigadde spoke with The Advocate Thursday afternoon from the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire, where she has been held for two months. In a soft voice, she repeatedly expressed fears that she would be killed if she is forced to return to her native Uganda.
“I’m not feeling well at all, just worried,” Namigadde said, noting that anxiety had prevented her from eating for the past two days. “There is no hope. I am so broken.”
The 29-year-old is scheduled to board a Friday evening flight from Heathrow Airport to Uganda, where her safety is anything but certain. On Wednesday, Kato, one of many LGBT people who had been outed and threatened with hanging in the country's Rolling Stone newspaper, was beaten to death with a hammer in the village of Mukono, east of the capital city of Kampala.
Namigadde worried she could suffer the same fate.
“It makes me feel very bad,” she said. “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.”
British officials have thus far refused to grant asylum to Namigadde, saying there is insufficient evidence that she is a lesbian. Her attorney submitted another claim with new evidence this week.
It’s unclear whether the frightening implications of Kato’s murder will sway British Home Secretary Theresa May to reconsider Namigadde’s deportation, though Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality, said, “It seems like the changed circumstances [regarding Kato’s murder] would provide at least a temporary reprieve from deportation.”
“In the past, public scrutiny and public outcry in the U.K. have been somewhat effective and have resulted in temporary reprieves,” Bromley said.
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