Lesbian Ugandan Threatened by Lawmaker

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

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Lesbian Ugandan Threatened by Lawmaker

Jodi Jacobson

In the immediate aftermath of the murder of a prominent LGBT advocate in Uganda,  Ugandan lesbian who is set to be deported from Britain fears for her life in returning to her country. She has reason: One virulently anti-gay Ugandan lawmaker has threatened her with "punishment" if she does not "repent."

Quite literally the moment I published the story on the murder of Ugandan human rights activist David Kato, Amie sent me a link to a story from the Guardian reporting on threats to a lesbian woman by Ugandan lawmaker David Bahati.

The woman, who is due to be deported from Britain to Uganda has, according to the Guardian, “been told by a Ugandan MP that she must “repent or reform” when she returns home” or face punishment.

Bahati, author of a draconian anti-homosexuality bill, “intervened in the case of Brenda Namigadde, due to be deported on Friday, saying he would drop a clause making homosexuality punishable by death in a bill he introduced to the Ugandan parliament.”

But, the Guardian reports:

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender campaigners were sceptical of his pledge to drop the death penalty, and said that Bahatia’s intervention meant Namigadde was in “desperate trouble” if deported.

Gay sex is a criminal offence in Uganda punishable by a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Bahati told the Guardian:

“Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.”

Asked what would happen if she did not “repent” he said:

“If she is caught in illegal practices she will be punished. If she comes to promote homosexuality, if she is caught in the act, if she is caught in illegal acts, she will be punished. I would be surprised, if she was promoting homosexuality, if she were not arrested.”

Bahati’s bill, according to the Guardian is “currently in committee stage, would impose life imprisonment for consenting adults who have gay sex, and the death penalty for people with HIV, “serial” homosexuals and those who have sex with under-18s, if it became law.”

Bahati said he was “willing to drop the death penalty” because of international concerns, but “key clauses”, including life imprisonment for gay people or gay marriage, imprisonment for the “promotion” of homosexuality and for those who fail to report an offence under the act, would remain. He was “confident” the bill would be passed following elections in the country next month, he said.

Speaking from Yarl’s Wood detention centre, Namigadde, 29, who fled Uganda in 2003 after being threatened and her house destroyed over her relationship with her Canadian partner, said: “I’ll be tortured or killed if I’m sent back to Uganda. They’ve put people like me to death there. Most of my friends in Uganda have disappeared.”

Her initial asylum claim was rejected in part on the basis that there was not sufficient evidence that she is a lesbian, reports the Guardian.

Namigadde’s lawyer, Alex Oringa, from Cardinal Solicitors, who submitted a fresh asylum claim on Monday, said he was “very worried” for her safety. “The moment she arrives at Entebbe airport she will be arrested. They will detain her and you never know what happens in detention. They think she has humiliated the Ugandan government.”