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Ugandan LGBT-rights Activist Granted Asylum

Ugandan LGBT-rights Activist Granted Asylum


Despite the repeal of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act, John "Longjones" Wambere and U.S. officials feel his home country isn't a safe place for LGBT people -- especially for activists, such as he, who have been evicted and threatened with violence.

Gay Ugandan rights activist, John "Longjones" Abdallah Wambere's application for asylum in the United States has been provisionally approved; and Wambere is ecstatic, reports the Washington Blade.

"I am overwhelmed," said Wambere in a press release issued by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, headquartered in Boston. "I must say that I am blessed, but there are many stories out there."

Wambere was a member of LGBT-rights group, Spectrum Uganda. He arrived in the U.S. seeking asylum less than a week before President Yoweri Museveni signed the since repealed "Anti-Homosexuality Act." Wambere saw the writing on the wall even before it was implemented, having been evicted and threatened with violence.

For six months, from February to August of this year, Uganda's AHA terrorized LGBT Ugandans. The law required landlords to evict LGBT tenants and expected family members to report gay relatives to officials. It also provided life sentences for acts of "aggravated homosexuality," which included repeat offenses, sex with minors, and gay sex while being HIV-positive.

Shortly after the law was overturned by a Constitutional Court in August, a Ugandan LGBT Pride event went off without a hitch along the shores of the east African country's Lake Victoria. However, according to activists the saga of violent homophobia is not yet over in Uganda. Some even predict the possibility of the return of the Anit-Homosexuality Act when Museveni runs for reelection in 2016.

For John Wambere's part, however, he will likely have the option to say in the U.S., regardless of what happens in Uganda. The U.S. State Department announced last week that, pending a mandatory background check, Wambere's request for asylum has been approved.

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