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LGBT Ugandan Refugees Face Persecution, Unemployment Difficulties In Kenya

Ugandans fleeing from the country to avoid its brutal, discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act are finding the cultural climate no less hostile into neighboring Kenya, according to their accounts. Legalized in February before more recently being struck down on a technicality, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act criminalized a variety of behaviors and threatened lifetime imprisonment for those found in violation. Hoping to avoid persecution, many LGBT identified Ugandans fled to Kenyan refugee camps hoping to find a more accepting, if temporary, home.

3489571906_f6bfb32682_z"The reaction shocked me. I went there. I thought it would be a celebration, but ... nothing," Brizan Ogollan explained to the Huffington Post."They knew at an international level and at the diplomatic level, the decision is going to have impact, but at the local level, it won't really. You can overrule the law, but you can't overrule the mind."

Ogollan runs an international aid organization that coordinates with the Kakuma refugee camp. Kakuma, whose name in Swahili means “nowhere” is known as a transitional camp through which many refugees pass on their way to their permanent resettlements. Kenyan society, Ogollan says, is no less homophobic than Uganda’s.

Like in Uganda, homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, and LGBT Ugandan refugees are faced with ostracization both for their sexual and gender presentations as well as their status as displaced people. Queer Ugandans report facing open aggression within the camps and persistent difficulty finding work within Kenyan cities.

The United Nations' refugee agency has taken note of the difficulties facing the refugees and has expressed its intention to expedite the relocations of the 35 Ugandan refugees officially registered as LGBT with the U.N.


Ugandan President Says Foreign Pressure Had 'Nothing To Do' With Striking Down Of Anti-Gay Law

MuseveniPresident Yoweri Museveni has denied that the recent court decision to scrap Uganda’s draconian anti-gay law had anything to do with the U.S.-Africa Summit taking place this week, reports the Mail & Guardian.

In the lead-up to this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, human rights groups had urged President Obama to discuss anti-gay discrimination in Uganda and other African countries. Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act last February, which penalizes same-sex relations with life imprisonment.

Museveni has said that the decision by Uganda’s constitutional court to overturn the country’s anti-gay legislation last Friday had “nothing to do” with the summit or with the sanctions placed on the country by the U.S.

However, saying he intends to take the issue to the country's Supreme Court, Christian evangelical pastor Martin Ssempa, who has campaigned to “kick sodomy out of Uganda”, described the court’s decision as a “judicial abortion” designed to polish Uganda’s reputation before the summit.

Under earlier legislation which is expected to return following the court’s decision, homosexuality in Uganda remains illegal and punishable by jail sentences.

 


Zambia VP: Decriminalization Of Homosexuality 'An Unreasonable Expectation'

Guy scott

Zambia Vice President Dr. Guy Scott has said that it is “not right” for the UK to expect his country to decriminalize homosexuality, reports STV.

Speaking at the Glasgow 2015 Commonwealth Games, Scott, who was born in Zambia to Scottish parents, said:

“Scotland introduced gay marriage last week so therefore Zambia must suddenly - you weren’t complaining about it two weeks ago – it’s not right. It’s an unreasonable expectation.”

Scott went on to say that Zambia is more interested in eradicating poverty and disease and improving the country’s education system.

Sexual relations between men in Zambia are punishable with up to 14 years in prison

Last September, Zambian activist Paul Kasonkomonawho was arrested after speaking out against the criminalization of homosexuality, was been ordered to face trial under the nation's penal code.

New research revealed last week shows that of the 80 countries worldwide that still criminalize homosexuality, more than half belong to the Commonwealth and that 42 of 53 Commonwealth countries continue to criminalise homosexuality, posing a serious threat to the LGBTI community.  


Uganda Court Hears Challenge to Anti-gay Law, Could Rule As Early As Tomorrow

Flag_of_Uganda

The Constitutional Court of Uganda opened arguments today on a challenge to the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act that was passed by the country’s parliament late last year and signed by President  Yoweri Museveni in February.

Speaking again with Towleroad, Richard Lusimbo with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said the arguments made against the law today centered on the controversial way the country’s parliament passed the bill without quorum – a constitutional requirement for any legislation to become law. After hearing the arguments, the court adjourned the case until tomorrow – with a possible ruling once the case resumes.

MuseveniTowleroad readers may recall that Ugandan President Museveni, who has a long history of spouting anti-LGBT comments, initially refused to sign the bill and accused parliament of lawlessly forcing it through after he recommended the law be shelved until the government could study it more clearly.

Buzzfeed adds:

If the court rules against the government, it would not be the first time that the Ugandan Constitutional Court has ruled in favor of LGBT rights. Trans activist Victor Mukasa successfully sued Uganda’s attorney general in 2006 for raiding his house while he was head of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Inspired by Mukasa’s victory, activist David Kato sued the now-defunct Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone over a series of articles outing LGBT people. Weeks after winning the case in 2011, Kato was bludgeoned to death.

The case comes as LGBT advocates renew pressure on President Obama to address LGBT rights in Africa. 


Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ

Human and gay rights activists are urging Barack Obama to discuss anti-gay discrimination at next week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit with 50 African leaders, reports ABC News.

2_obamaThe Human Rights Campaign and Human Rights First issued a statement saying that the summit, with the theme “Investing in the Next Generation,” is a "once-in-a-generation moment" to promote equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Africans.

According to the two advocacy groups, 37 African countries have laws criminalizing LGBT relationships. Leaders of 32 of those countries - including Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, who signed harsh anti-gay laws earlier this year - have been invited to the summit.

In response to anti-gay laws, the U.S.government last month announced sanctions against Uganda including loss of funding and a ban on Ugandan citizens involved in human rights abuses entering the United States.

Shawn Gaylord, Human Rights First's advocacy counsel for LGBT rights said:

"We believe the U.S. can do more in both Nigeria and Uganda to ensure that U.S. funding is not being given to any institution or group that is abusing human rights, including actively discriminating against the LGBT community. We recognize that this is a difficult process with competing interests, made more difficult by the rhetoric espoused by some leaders that the movement for the rights of LGBT people is something invented in the West and being imposed upon African societies. "

Indicating that gay rights will be raised at the summit, Ned Price, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said:

"The Obama Administration has long spoken out — including with our African partners — in support of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. We expect the summit will provide an opportunity to continue these conversations."

Read Human Rights Campaign's report The State Of Human Rights For LGBT People In Africa, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Barack Obama Must Raise LGBT Discrimination At U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit: READ" »


Malawi Solicitor General Says Country Has Suspended Anti-Gay Laws

Janet Chikaya-Banda

At a meeting with the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva last week, Malawi’s Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General Janet Chikaya-Banda said that the southeast African nation has suspended arresting people for homosexuality until its anti-gay laws are reviewed.

MalawiBack in 2012, it was first reported that Malawi was suspending its anti-gay penal codes and ordering police not to arrest gays. However, the country’s Justice Minister quickly backed away from claims that he was reversing any anti-gay laws, leading to doubts as to whether gays in the country were safe from legal prosecution.

Nyasa Times adds that Banda told the committee the review of the anti-gay laws was stalled due to lack of financial resources but that there was political will to deal with the matter. 

Malawi, like most other African countries, has harsh laws on the books that criminalize consensual homosexual acts. Individuals convicted under Malawi’s anti-gay laws can be punished with up to 14 years imprisonment with hard labor.


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