Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 46 / 16 November 2017
 

US deports Ugandan lesbian

NEWS


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Lesbians in Uganda. Photo: The Ugandan
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A 23-year-old Ugandan lesbian, identified in the media only as L., a pseudonym to protect her identity, was deported by the United States.

She arrived in the U.S. on a student visa at Washington Dulles International Airport August 25. She planned to attend a small university in the region.

Prior to starting school, she decided to visit her cousin who lives in Seattle.

She didn't make it. The young woman was questioned by Customs and Border Protection authorities, who found a ticket to Seattle among her belongings.

"They took away my phone, and I couldn't call anyone who could explain. I tried to tell them what was happening with me, but they didn't understand," L. told the Intercept.

L. was terrified by the authorities and couldn't explain what happened to her and her girlfriend in Uganda. Instead, she told them that she wasn't afraid to return to Uganda and agreed that she lied to get her visa, reported the Daily Beast.

"I tried explaining, but I wouldn't let her know my issues back in Uganda," L. told the Beast. "I had never opened up to any officer or any other person on the experience I had in Uganda. I felt I couldn't open up to anyone. I wanted to talk to her, but I felt I couldn't."

If she had requested asylum for her situation, she would have received special protection, according to human rights experts. Now her immigration attorney and cousin are fighting to get her back to the U.S. while L. lives trapped between the U.S. and Uganda in airport terminals and hotels.

 

Terrorized for loving a woman

In October 2016, L. and her girlfriend, who was only identified as E., checked into a hotel. They didn't lock the door and men burst in.

"We were naked and we were making love," L. told the Beast.

The men dragged the women out into the street beating them, throwing stones at them, and pouring paraffin gas on them.

"They were planning to burn us," L. said.

Police showed up. They were arrested and charged with immorality.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, a throwback to British colonial era anti-sodomy laws. In 2014, the country passed an Anti-Homosexuality Law that carried a sentence of life in prison, a watered-down version from the so-called kill the gays version of the bill drafted in 2009. The law was struck down in August that same year.

A quarter of the world believes homosexuality should be criminalized, according to a survey, " Minority Reports 2017: Attitudes to Sexual and Gender Minorities Around the World," published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association and RIWI.

The report also showed that knowing someone who identifies as LGBT makes a significant difference in terms of their level of acceptance.

That wasn't the case for these young women, who lived in one of the countries where so-called corrective rape is most prevalent. Uganda is noted, along with India, Jamaica, South Africa, and Zimbabwe for its rates of "corrective rape," in which people are raped because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, Tarah Demant of Amnesty International told the Beast.

The women were separated and beaten and tortured by police at their parents' urging. The families hoped the women would be beaten straight, L. told the media outlets. Eventually, they were released.

The couple met and fell in love in high school in their small town in southern Uganda. For five years, they kept their relationship a secret. Once exposed, they escaped to Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, believing that they would be safer. The threats didn't stop L.'s family from hiring a man who hunted her down and raped her when E. was away from their flat.

L. reported the rape to police, but instead of finding the rapist, she was jailed and charged in relation to sodomy and recruiting young people into homosexuality that her family filed against her, according to the court filing, reported the Beast.

She was once again subjected to beatings by the police for two days in jail.

A year later, she didn't report what happened to her girlfriend. She's now contacted her cousin, who contacted immigration attorney Hassan Ahmad, a legal advocate with the Dulles Justice Coalition, who agreed to represent L.

Despite Ahmad's efforts, CBP refused to allow him to speak with L. and denied his requests for a credible fear interview, the first step toward asylum, and told the Beast that the agency doesn't plan on revisiting its decision on L.'s case.

L. recently arrived in Kenya where she's fighting to get back to the U.S.

Earlier this year, Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) introduced a bill, the Access to Counsel Act 2017, to guarantee individuals detained at the border or port of entry have access to legal counsel.

 

Gay male lions cause uproar in Kenya

Two male lions that were spotted in a steamy encounter while a safari guide was leading a tour in Kenya's national park have caused an uproar among officials.

"These two were at it for over a minute and the obvious affection afterwards was very evident, as opposed to the violent withdrawal when a male and female mate," said Paul Goldstein, the Exodus Travels guide and photographer who captured the encounter in Kenya's Masai Mara.

The Englishman from London explained to media outlets that usually mating between heterosexual lions lasts a few seconds.

"Sometimes you just see something that takes your breath away," he said about the lions that were in "perfect light."

Homosexuality is rare, but not uncommon, among male lions, as the scene mirrored similar observations by nature expert Bruce Bagemihl in his book, "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity," reported Gay Star News.

"Male lions head-rub and roll around with each other before having sex together," Bagemihl wrote, noting that male lions are often monogamous and defend each other against intruders. "Male lions ... slide the length of their bodies along their partners."

Kenyan officials were not amused.

Ezekial Mutua, who is chief executive of the Kenya Film Classification Board, called the scene "demonic" and blamed gay tourists for influencing the lions.

"These animals need counseling, because probably they have been influenced by gays who have gone to the national parks and behaved badly," he told the Nairobi News.

He called for the lions to be put into isolation, reported LGBTQ Nation.

"I mean, where on earth have you ever heard of something like this happening? The demonic spirits inflicting humans seem to have now caught up with animals," he said, calling it "not normal" and for the animals to be studied.

Lions are endangered, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. The organization cites habitat loss, conflicts with humans, and isolated populations that lead to inbreeding for the dwindling lion population.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya and carries a 14-year prison sentence if convicted.

 

Got an international LGBT news tip? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at Skype: healther.cassell or oitwnews@gmail.com.

 






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