Author's note: The good news, via Melanie Nathan, is that Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde has been granted a temporary last-minute reprieve, and will not be deported back to Uganda this evening, as planned. Word came down from the High Court judge as Namigadde was being escorted to the airport this evening. Her lawyer, Abdulrahman Jafar, will be filing a fresh asylum appeal using the tack that so many of us have suggested. He'll argue that Namiggade should be allowed to remain in the UK regardless of her sexuality. "The press coverage about her activities certainly expose her to a real risk if she is to be returned to Uganda," he told the BBC.
Two days ago David Kato, a gay Ugandan activist, was found beaten to death in his home after a tabloid flashed his picture on their cover next to a “Hang them!” banner. Now it’s Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan lesbian who has been denied asylum in Britain, with a target on her back. She’s due to be deported from Britain tonight despite the fact that David Bahati, the Ugandan member of parliament who introduced the “Kill the Gays” bill still under consideration there, has singled her out in a chilling statement that parades as accommodation but reads as a threat.
Bahati’s idea of restraint: he said he would drop the clause making homosexuality punishable by death in the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill, and told the Guardian: "Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn't want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals."
Consider that last sentence before you make the mistake of thinking that Kato’s murder and the attention it’s drawn to Uganda’s full-on hatred of LGBT people will stop Bahati or anyone else there from imprisoning, raping, or murdering Namigadde. Not if the response of the Uganda police or those who helped target all of the country’s LGBT people for extermination, including Kato, is any indication. The former persist in characterizing Kato’s murder as a simple robbery. The editor of the tabloid that published Kato’s picture alongside ninety-nine other “homos” sees no connection between his actions and Kato’s murder, telling the New York Times: “There is no need for anxiety or for hype. We should not overblow the death of one.” Don Schmierer, one of the American Evangelicals who toured Uganda in 2009 on a Whip-Up-Hatred-for-Homosexuals jaunt that drew packed houses just prior to the introduction of the Kill the Gays bill, considers himself the victim here: “’I spoke to help people,’” he said, “and I’m getting bludgeoned from one end to the other.”
This is the country and these are the attitudes Namigadde will return to unless a host of international organizations, first alerted to her plight by blogger Melanie Nathan, can convince British Home Secretary Theresa May to stay Namigadde’s deportation order.
You can help by signing All Out’s petition to May’s office—she’s already received 40,000 messages from 160 countries—and sending this message to the Twitterverse. Now. This instant. Before Brenda’s plane leaves in a few hours.
As a final irony, Namigadde’s petition for asylum was denied because British officials, for reasons that are not entirely clear, don’t think she’s a lesbian. That shouldn’t even be the point any more. As Andre Banks, the co-founder of All Out says, "Now that Bahati has singled out Brenda as a lesbian, it should be clear to anyone, including Theresa May, that following through on her deportation will place her in clear and present danger."