Gay Ugandan Faces Deporation from U.S.

Jim Burroway

April 8th, 2011

San Diego-area friends and supporters of Joseph Bokombe have launched a petition drive imploring a U.S. immigration judge to grant Bokombe’s request for asylum. Bokombe overstayed his cultural exchange visa, friends say, because he was afraid to go home.

Those fears are well-founded. LGBT Ugandans have been subject to successive waves of anti-gay vigilante campaigns in the press and F.M. radio over the past several years. Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato was murdered just three weeks after winning a court case against one tabloid which posted his photo under a headline reading “hang them!” That’s not the only worry. The draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would impose the death penalty for homosexuality, remains a potent threat despite government assurances that the bill will not be voted on.

Under these circumstances, Bokombe’s friends fear for his safety should he be forced to return to Uganda.

[Awichu] Akwanya, a Ugandan native, said he believes Bokombe would face a similar fate. “Actually I don’t think even past the airport. They just get him and then put him in detention. In detention, he can get poisoned or [they will] hire some people in jail to kill him,” said Akwanya.

Those grim prospects led Hector Martinez to begin a petition drive to help Bokombe’s appeal for asylum. Bokombe volunteers at a church and for several local groups, including Mental Health America of San Diego County, which is the mental health non-profit Martinez works at. “He’s a part of our community and people care about him. He deserves to live freely,” said Martinez.

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released this statement to KGTV television:

“Over the course of the last year, Mr. Bukombe’s immigration case has undergone extensive review by judges at multiple levels of our legal system. In those proceedings, the courts have held that he has failed to establish a legal basis to remain in the United States. ICE is now in the process of seeking to carry out the deportation order handed down by the immigration court.”

The petition currently has 258 signatures.

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2011

It would appear that the position of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is that the appropriate penalty for overstaying a visa is a death sentence. I disagree.

Regan DuCasse

April 9th, 2011

Ye Gods, gay citizens from ANYWHERE in the world are a special case for political asylum more than any other people.
Being gay is not a political, religious or social choice, there is no way to change positions or have others be persuaded to BE gay, as would happen with all the other aspects of one’s citizenship and freedom to choose one’s like minded associates.
Being gay isn’t a tactic of government overthrow or subversion, but a matter of being left in peace and to be at peace with other citizens AND one’s government.

Why gay people are always treated as if THE highest and most acute threat to anything is so INSANE.
Look at what such paranoia of gay people DOES to anyone’s sense.

America isn’t as gay friendly apparently, as other countries might be. Like Canada or perhaps somewhere in England. Gay Americans are still fighting battles no citizen should have to as well.
My heart goes out to those gay immigrants who are forced to consider staying illegally in America simply to stay alive.

This is still very different from the majority demographic of illegal immigrant that comes to America to abuse the birthright clause, and other issues more to do with economics and systemic deprivation. They are majorities in their respective countries who have the American model of fighting for economic and social justice. They have a lot more power to affect change by their sheer numbers and youthful vigor of their populations.

Indeed, the minority of gay people do affect change where they come from, and sometimes eventually WIN.
Which is why, my support of the international community of gays and lesbians who immigrate, and aren’t allowed to stay and don’t have the same legal options to do so as their straight counterparts.
It makes their lack of such treatment much more unfair, therefore more compassion is warranted.

And yes, I’m being consistent. There are some people who have been shocked or dismayed about my stance on illegal immigration.
And have gone so far as to call me racist and xenophobic. Which makes about a much sense as calling me homophobic.
There are more nuanced issues of ethics, triage as to whose needs are more urgent and how many our nation or localities can accommodate.
To not discuss the issue as if that’s not an important part of it, is to deny why this situation is so volatile and unhealthy to begin with.

I wish this poor man the best of luck. If not here in America, I hope another country will do for him what needs to be done.


April 9th, 2011

Thank you for bringing this to my attention; I signed the petition.


April 10th, 2011

I am stunned each time I read another of these stories at how callous, indifferent and cruel is the government of the United States of America. Good God! What does it take to wake these people up? Stories like this make me ashamed to admit I am from this country.

Regan DuCasse

April 10th, 2011

I signed the petition too. I wish him well.

Timothy (TRiG)

April 11th, 2011

Can non-US people sign that petition? I’ve done what I can by mentioning it on Slactivist and Pharyngula.


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