I'm on the board of St. Paul's Voice Centre, Kampala, Uganda, an LGBT civil rights and educational organization. St. Paul's director, the Reverend Patrick McCarthy, won the 2013 Makwan Prize, an international award given yearly to a ground-breaking human rights risk-taker. Since the new, incredibly vicious anti-homosexual laws have taken effect in places such as Uganda and Nigeria, the Reverend's life and the lives of lgbt citizens there and elsewhere in Africa have been deeply compromised. Reverend McCarthy himself has had to move at least three times since the new laws were enacted, a month back.
And be clear: while the Ugandan and Nigerian and other African governments and churches bear much of the responsibility for the daily horrors inflicted on gays and lesbians there, we must not forget that the colonial rulers, the United Kingdom in particular, began this cruel legal tradition long before these nations freed themselves from Europe's oppression.
And never forget that American pastors, such as Scott Lively, have spent the past decade traveling to African capitals and to Russia and throughout the East urging governments and churches to make the sanctions for breathing-while-gay as painful and as durable as possible, and as unnerving as can be tolerated by the international community. And the work of these so-called men-of-the-cloth has been financed and promoted in our name.
As a result, and well before the new round of anti-homosexual laws, some lgbt Africans fled to Western Europe.
This is a letter from a young Ugandan, a gay man whom I'll call M.G. In it he asks St. Paul's Voice Centre for help and he lays out some of the reasons he decided to give up any shot at seeing his home again.
The letter also betrays the youth's naivete about the West, its legal systems and assumptions, and about how deeply ingrained fear and a lack of political savvy can undermine a person's hopes for freedom.
Here is his letter.
I am M.G., a Ugandan living in the Netherlands. I fled Uganda in July, 2012 because of the political situation of gays in Uganda. I am a gay man formally charged with Promotion of Homosexuality. I was arrested, but as a result of the [official and unofficial] physical abuses, death threats, and alienation from my family, friends, school mates, village community, as well as from the Ugandan Security Authorities. I had to, for my life, escape from Uganda and was brought [by an underground organization] to the Netherlands to seek International Protection (asylum)from the Dutch Immigration Authorities (IND).
As a result of all that happened to me, I was reluctant to bring up my sexual orientation to the Dutch authorities because I was concerned that The Netherlands was like Uganda, that it hated us. I honestly did not know that someone could seek asylum as a result of being persecuted because one is gay. But after staying in the Netherlands for a year, I realised that it's a free country and that I could live my life as a gay man here, freely. so I decided to seek International Protection or Asylum for who I am since I cannot go back to my motherland.
In 2013 I was denied protection from the Dutch Authorities but later on they decided to send me to an Asylum Centre in Dronten AZC. After also seeing fellow Ugandan LGBTs come out with one voice to fight for our Rights and Justice as LGBTs through Uganda Gay On Move (UGOM) which, I also joined. I also joined other LGBT organisations such as Secret Gardens Netherlands, Out and Proud Diamond Group UK, and SPAVOC Uganda. Because I was denied Protection by the Dutch Authorities (IND), they are now planning to take me to the Court of Law on 18th February, 2014. If the Court rules negatively on my case, I may be deported back to Uganda or thrown into Dutch prison/detention.
Therefore, I call upon St Paul's Voice Centre and you, Reverend McCarthy, a reknown Human Rights and LGBT activist and defender for support, as, for example, making a ''PETITION'' for me so perhaps the Dutch will not deport me back to Uganda where I will surely be killed. I want, instead, International Protection.
I also request you to write for me a letter of Declaration to my Lawyer so as to Present to the Court as in support of my asylum case.
This young man's situation, awful as it is, is better than those of typical lgbt citizens as yet in Africa. And recall, too, what has befallen him and so many millions overseas, is being perpetrated in your name and as long as religious bigots promote themselves and are perceived as speaking for the US overseas, and they do and are, and as long as our push-back's weak and intermittent, we are complicit in unspeakable human degradation.