Nigeria + 1 more

Prosecution and persecution: Anti-gay legislation in Nigeria, Uganda endangers LGBTI refugees, too.

Contact (English or Français): Josselin Moreau
joe@oraminternational.org +1 (650) 630-9832 (UTC/GMT -8)

Uganda’s President announced today he will sign an anti-homosexuality bill into law…

"We are deeply concerned and fearful for the thousands of LGBTI people in Uganda who will be harmed by this legislation. All LGBTI people in Uganda, but especially those who are refugees there, will be hard-hit. Running for their lives, stranded away from family and friends, and now barred from seeking medical and social service support. We urge all people and institutions of conscience in and outside Uganda to open their hearts and their doors to these most vulnerable of human beings."

Neil Grungras, ORAM founder and Executive Director

14 February 2014 (San Francisco, USA).[updated from 18 January] Nigeria's anti-gay law entered into force in January. Today, we learned that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he will sign the anti-gay legislation passed by Parliament in December. LGBTI people in both countries already face some of the world’s most dangerously homophobic legal and social environments, with a spike in violent anti-gay vigilante attacks already reported in Nigeria and of long-standing in Uganda. The consequences for LGBTI refugees in those countries are dire: more may need to flee, and those already displaced are at greater risk than ever. The Ugandan bill would worsen punishment of homosexual acts by up to life imprisonment, would criminalize actions deemed to be ‘promotion’ of homosexuality, and would require service providers to report LGBTI people to the police.

Meaningful protection is already often unattainable for internally displaced LGBTI Ugandans and refugees who have fled to Kampala from surrounding countries. Because Uganda is one of the most politically stable countries in the African Great Lakes region, numerous migrants, including LGBTI individuals, move from neighboring countries to seek asylum and refugee status in Uganda. As a leading refugee advocate stated in ORAM’s documentary film “No Place for Me”,

“I haven't met any refugee who has claimed asylum on the basis of being persecuted as a sexual minority, even though I have met many clients who - when they tell you the story of why they left their country [to come to Uganda] - that was the primary reason.”

ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration – demonstrated in recent field research[1] that LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers are already particularly vulnerable to pervasive violence and abuse. As a female transgender refugee explained when asked why she would not report frequent transphobic attacks to the police, “It’s like you are taking yourself to jail." [Download Uganda Fact sheet http://bit.ly/1aevN8U]

LGBTI refugees’ fear of social and health workers was also already a problem. As a Ugandan social worker reported, “Most of these [LGBTI] clients have never accessed any health services, because they fear to mention exactly what they are facing.” If enforced, the anti-homosexuality bill would entirely cut off refugee, social, and health services to this community, including HIV/AIDS care.

If the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill is passed, those who provide assistance to LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers may be targeted and punished.

LGBTI refugees in Uganda already suffer from a hostile social environment on account of both their sexual orientation or gender identity, and their migrant status. “Most of the LGBTI refugees we interviewed for the Blind Alleys study live in utter isolation,” explained ORAM Executive Director and founder, Neil Grungras. “Those who can escape the persecution will begin another long and perilous journey, ending up as refugees or asylum seekers in other places where they may again face violence and discrimination. Legislation of this sort—in any country—puts all LGBTI refugees in a region in peril for their lives. People will die fleeing for safety.”

ORAM stands with Nigerian and Ugandan human rights groups and defenders in the struggle for equal protection for LGBTI citizens and refugees alike.

To arrange an interview with ORAM founder and Executive Director Neil Grungras: Elizabeth Stull, elizabeth@oraminternational.org + 1 (720) 408-3223 or +972 (52) 634-8854 (UTC/GMT +2)

More about LGBTI refugees in Uganda

”Blind Alleys,” an ORAM publication with ground-breaking research on the struggles of LGBTI refugees in Uganda, is available at:

3-pager factsheet with key findings and refugee quotes http://bit.ly/1aevN8U. Full report in English http://bit.ly/1fvfy9t (Summary in French http://bit.ly/1j64tfL) Photos available to media (Credit: ORAM) http://bit.ly/1fvhjn5

More about LGBTI refugees

“Blind Alleys: The Unseen Struggles of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Urban Refugees in Mexico, Uganda and South Africa” is available at: www.oraminternational.org/en/publications
Educational documentaries As I Am and No Place for Me, uncovering the struggles of LGBTI refugees in their own words, are available at: http://www.oraminternational.org/en/videos

About ORAM

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum & Migration – is the leading global organization working for people fleeing persecution based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. ORAM increases global support for thousands of refugees and asylum seekers through advocacy and education, and provides trainings and technical assistance to refugee professionals and groups interested in working with LGBTI refugees, asylees, and asylum seekers. Learn more at www.oraminternational.org