LGBT Advocate Faces Deportation To Uganda

Jim Burroway

February 19th, 2014

Longtime BTB readers may remember the formerly-anonymous blogger who went by the moniker GayUganda, Dr. Paul Semugoma. He formally revealed his identity in 2012 while in Washington D.C. for that year’s International AIDS Conference, where he spoke passionately about the  challenges of confronting HIV/AIDS in a country where rampant homophobia makes it dangerous for LGBT people to disclose themselves to their doctors. He had, by then, moved to South Africa where he had applied for residency.

Today, there are reports that he is currently in detention in South Africa and facing deportation back to Uganda. One source says that “despite a High Court order to stay the deportation, he was taken to airport, where he refused to leave voluntarily.”  Here is a full release from earlier in the day from South Africa’s Treatment Action Campaign:

(19 FEBRUARY) Dr Paul Nsubuga Semugoma a Ugandan medical doctor and human rights activist has been under arrest for the past 48 hours and is facing the threat of deportation to his country of birth.

A group of South African human rights organisations are urgently attempting to halt his deportation as Paul is “wanted” in Uganda for his activism around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues in his country.

Paul has been in the forefront with the Ugandan Parliament in fighting the Anti-homosexuality Bill, were he presented how the bill not only is a human rights infringement but also a health access dilemma to the Men who have Sex with Men (MSM) community. The human rights situation in Uganda has deteriorated, and the LGBT community is particularly vulnerable at this time.

Paul is at risk should he be deported to Uganda. One of his close friends David Kato was murdered in 2011 and he felt he was not so safe anymore and decided to move to South Africa with his partner where he has been a volunteer doctor at Anova Health Institute for the past three years, working specifically with MSM.

Paul’s special skills application has been pending since March 2012. His application was lost twice by the Department of Home Affairs, a case was lodged and he was requested to re-apply in which he did in April 2013 and again in August 2013. Paul was allowed to travel using his official passport and a receipt from the department. After several trips in and out of South Africa, Paul returned from a meeting in Zimbabwe earlier this week and was arrested.

Lawyers yesterday managed to get a court order to halt the threatened deportation and to order his release. However last night  immigration officials unlawfully refused to release him. As a result his lawyers are returning to the South Gauteng High Courttoday to secure another order for his release.

Activists will gather at the court today in support of Paul’s release.

THIS STATEMENT IS RELEASED UNDER THE BANNER OF THE SA NATIONAL AIDS COUNCIL CIVIL SOCIETY SECTOR, TREATMENT ACTION CAMPAIGN, SONKE GENDER JUSTICE, ANOVA HEALTH INSTITUTE, COALITION OF AFRICAN LESBIANS and SECTION 27

More from AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention:

Thank you for the rapid outpouring of support! A couple of actions you can take:

  • Social media campaigns are being organized using the social media hashtags #JusticeforPaulSemugoma and #freepaul. We encourage you to help raise the profile of the situation on Facebook, Twitter, and with any relevant media contacts.
  •  The Coalition of African Lesbians is encouraging partners to contact some of the officials with jurisdiction over the situation. Visit: https://www.facebook.com/CoalitionCAL for more information.
  • For those based in Johannesburg, 2014 AVAC Fellow Yvette Raphael wrote in about a protest that is being organized at OR Tambo International Airport. Contact Yvette at yvetteraphael8@gmail.com for more information.

The Ugandan Parliament has passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that would not only further criminalize homosexuality with life imprisonment, but would also criminalize providing services to LGBT people or engaging in any advocacy on their behalf. President Yoweri Museveni has announced that he will sign that bill into law. This will make Dr. Semugoma a three-times criminal: he’s gay, he’s a doctor providing health care to LGBT people, and he’s an advocate.

Hyhybt

February 19th, 2014

Frustrating that there’s nothing about *why* he was arrested, or why they refused to obey the court order. Not your fault, of course.

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