Saturday June 5 2010

UK to protect Ugandan gays asylum seekers

By Robert Mwanje


The newspaper on May 23, quoted the British Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May as saying her government would block moves by the Ugandan government to force the extradition of Ugandan gay asylum-seekers.

According to the news paper, the move by the British government was applauded by campaigners, who are opposed to a proposed anti –gay law in Uganda. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill was presented to Parliament by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati and it proposes severe punishments for gay sex. Mr Bahati, who says he wants to protect heterosexuals, has tried to find validation in claims that European gays are recruiting young boys in Ugandan schools.

Not an offence
However, according to the report by The Independent, the Home Office made it clear that the UK will only extradite people to their home countries if their “crime” was not an offence in Britain. Homosexuality is not an offence in UK.

A spokesman for British Refugee Action said: “This is a really welcome announcement and a very positive step. Obviously, we will want to sit down with ministers and seek clarification over how a ban on deportations will be administered, but it is excellent news that extraditions to Uganda have been categorically ruled out.”

Not interested
The move follows international protests over the sentencing last week of two gay men in Malawi to 14 years’ hard labour. Early this week, Ugandan gays living in the UK led by Mr Moses Mugisha staged a protest at the Malawi embassy and called for the release of the two Malawian gay men. A Home Office spokesman said: “The new Government is committed to stopping the deportation of asylum-seekers who have had to leave particular countries because their sexual orientation or gender identification puts them at proven risk of imprisonment, torture or execution. We are considering the best way of implementing this policy. In terms of extradition, the UK will only extradite someone if they are wanted for an offence that is also a crime in the UK.”

The Minister of Information and National Guidance Ms Kabakumba Masiko said the government was not interested in gay asylum seekers but maintained that gay activities were unconstitutional and illegal in Uganda adding there is a clear procedure which the government can follow if “we wanted any criminal from another country.”