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Appeals court
denies asylum for gay Zimbabwe man

Appeals court
denies asylum for gay Zimbabwe man


A federal appeals court rejected a gay Zimbabwe man's request for asylum, despite antigay conditions in his native country.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday disagreed with a gay Zimbabwe man's argument that he needed protection from persecution in his native country, upholding a lower court's denial of asylum. The eighth U.S. circuit court of appeals in St. Louis decided 2-1 to send William J. Kimumwe home, despite Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe's repeated condemnation of gays and lesbians, including describing them as "lower than pigs and dogs."

Kimumwe, recently of Minneapolis, said he fears persecution. He cited cases from his past in Zimbabwe, in which he said he was expelled from school in 1995 for having sex with another male student at age 12 and detained for two months in 1998 after a fellow student reported a sexual encounter, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Kimumwe said he came to the United States in 2002, was eventually turned down for asylum, and appealed.

The court panel ruled that Zimbabwean authorities reacted to Kimumwe's conduct, not necessarily his homosexuality, and noted that he had admitted getting the other student drunk in the second case, the paper said. Judge Gerald Heaney, the lone dissenter, said the immigration judge who denied asylum overlooked "Kimumwe's unrefuted testimony that the officers who arrested him made it clear he was arrested for being gay, not for having sex."

Heaney also pointed to Mugabe's vow that Zimbabwe would do "everything in its power" to combat homosexuality. "Our country ought not sanction the return of an openly gay man to a country whose leader has vowed to rid the country of homosexuals," Heaney wrote. (

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