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Ugandan gay rights activist seeks asylum in U.S.

Three days after Ugandan gay rights activist John Abdallah Wambere landed in the U.S. for a business trip in February, his government singed into law a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act that criminalizes both homosexuality and outreach to homosexuals. He has petitioned for asylum in the U.S.
By JC Finley   |   May 13, 2014 at 3:37 PM   |   Comments

BOSTON, May 13 (UPI) -- Ugandan gay rights activist John Abdallah Wambere is seeking asylum in the U.S. following Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's enactment of a controversial Anti-Homosexuality Act in February.

Under the law, both homosexuality and outreach to gays and lesbians are illegal. Those found guilty of "aggravated homosexuality" may face life in prison. "Aiding and abetting homosexuality" may also result in prison time, a provision that could impact rights groups, as well as LGBT support service providers.

Wambere fears that his work with Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, an LGBT advocacy and support services organization, could find him in the cross hairs of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The legislation was signed into law three days after Wambere arrived in the U.S. for a business trip to lobby on behalf of Spectrum Uganda. He told NPR that "I didn't have any intention of seeking asylum" but the bill's enactment "made it very difficult for me to think how, if I went back, I would be at risk, because the [Ugandan] newspapers went ahead and outed me and a couple of my colleagues, giving names and addresses." He remained in the U.S. on a temporary visa.

Wambere filed an application for asylum with help from the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders. If he's able to stay in the U.S., he plans to continue with LGBT advocacy work. "I would still be able to support my people back home, while I'm in a much more safe environment."

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