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Ugandan gay man fears for his life if he is deported

When Godfrey met the LGBT Catholics he said he "finally felt at home"

07 April, 2017 — By The Xtra Diary

Godfrey Kawalya and protestors on a march 

HUNDREDS have signed a petition in support of gay Ugandan refugee Godfrey Kawalya who is at risk of being deported after his appeal to remain in this country was rejected.

Godfrey, who is a member of LGBT Catholics Westminster – a group that has rallied behind him – told Diary “my life will be in danger if I go back home”.

Godfrey said that in his home country he was expelled from secondary school, rejected by his family and later fired from a job when they discovered he was gay. He said he kept his relationships a secret, adding: “In my country, you can’t just say these things.”

He recalled his struggles to survive in his home country. As he was travelling through dangerous territory in Kampala he was captured by rebels and tortured. Eventually he escaped when he was sent to get water and walked for many days to get to safety.

“I was not well, the rebels had stabbed me in my left leg, but I am lucky I’m still alive. Some people had died,” he said. He was given shelter by a friend, who was killed when officials came looking for Godfrey. “They asked him: ‘Where is the gay man?’” When his friend did not tell, he said they “put a pistol to his head and shot him”.

On the run again, he eventually made it to Kenya and then came to England in 2002. Once here, he said he was made to do forced labour for over a year to pay off his debt to the smugglers.

After he was freed, he said it was only when he discovered Soho and then joined the LGBT Catholics Westminster group that he “started feeling like I was at home”.

He regularly attended weekend Mass in a church in Farm Street and was elected to the LGBT Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council in 2013. He said he had finally found his people and that being a part of the group makes him “not feel anxious”. “I feel supported,” he added.

But Godfrey’s appeal for asylum has been rejected, he said. He said he was told he would not have a judicial review. It is now feared he will be deported to a country where his life is at risk.

He added that the home office does not believe he’s gay, because for some time he was living with a woman who he says was giving him shelter when he had nowhere to go.

Now signed by over 500 people, support has poured in for Godfrey, through a petition The LGBT Catholics Westminster Group say that he has become an advocate for other asylum seekers in the community and an example to those trying to overcome homophobia.

See the petition at: www.change.org/p/uk-home-office-stop-the-deportation-of-a-gay-ugandan-refugee

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