Will Lesbian, Raped By Uncle to ’Cure’ Her, Be Forced to Return to Uganda?
A lesbian from Uganda who has been getting care in the UK after her uncle raped her to ’cure’ her of being gay, got a second chance today when officials told her that she wouldn’t be getting on the plane back to her country. But the reprieve appears to be only temporary.
A recent story in Gay Star News reports that 30-year-old Harriet Nakigudde was scheduled to be sent back to Uganda on June 10 from the UK when an officer at Yarl’s Wood detention center gave the word that she wouldn’t be leaving quite so soon.
"When he walked in, I thought that was it," said Nakigudde. "But no, they told me the flight had been cancelled. I am so relieved."
But this morning, Nakigudde said that a different officer told her that the plane had been cancelled for ’administrative reasons,’ and that she would be given a ticket back to Uganda at some point in the future.
Nakigudde, who has been given therapeutic care from the Helen Bamber Foundation, said that she dreads the thought of returning to Uganda, where she fears she will be beaten, imprisoned or even killed for being openly LGBT.
"I was feeling happy earlier," said Nakigudde. "I’m afraid of going back to Uganda. I don’t want to go back to Uganda. I’m afraid for my life. When the officer came back into the room, I couldn’t believe it. My solicitor has told me not to worry. But I can’t help but worry."
Nakigudde has a pending judicial review application in the High Court, and fresh evidence has reportedly come to light about her case, with a family member supporting her claim, and lawyers and other organizations getting involved.
Activists describe threats of sending the woman back to certain harm as a "miscarriage of justice."
"They should have looked at her case properly," said Edwin Sesange of Out and Proud Diamond Group. "They are willing to deport her without looking at the court decision. So it’s hard to understand what they’re really up to, it’s so confusing. We’re so, so worried about Harriet and what they’re doing to her."
The website No Deportations, Residence Papers for All writes that Nakigudde should be granted protection on the basis of fearing for her life, reminding readers of "the actual death that did occur when the UK Home Office successfully deported lesbian Jackie Nanyonjo."
They note that when the government tried to remove her on May 17, she collapsed while boarding the plane, under terror of returning to Uganda. They note that the woman could face 14 years to life in prison for being a lesbian, and castigate the Home Secretary’s office for humiliating Nakigudde by asking her about "what she used to do sexually with her partner in private," and for doubting her sexual orientation and refusing asylum based on it, because the woman has not been in a relationship during the five years she has been in the UK.
Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.