Gays Seeking Sexual Asylum in South Africa

By Smith, Alex Duval | The Independent (London, England), November 6, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Gays Seeking Sexual Asylum in South Africa

Smith, Alex Duval, The Independent (London, England)

THREE GAY men who face persecution in Uganda and Pakistan are set to make history in South Africa after invoking the country's liberal constitution as grounds for asylum.

Their applications, which are expected to be successful, will mark the first known time a country in the developing world has granted asylum to people facing persecution for their sexuality.

While South Africa's constitution forbids discrimination over sexuality the leaders of other African countries have recently launched diatribes against gays and lesbians.

Steve Kabiku - not his real name - is a 32-year-old doctor who lodged his application for asylum in Johannesburg last month after fleeing Uganda.

"For nearly 30 years homosexuality has carried a penalty of life imprisonment in Uganda. Now they are contemplating making it a capital offence," he said.

Last month, the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said homosexuality was against the Bible and ordered police to round up gays and lesbians.

Dr Kabiku said: "A cousin called me in Kampala and told me to take off my jewellery and earrings, anything which might suggest I was gay. I hid at an auntie's house in Kampala.

"I knew that if I stayed in Uganda I would sooner or later be taken off to some prison and no one would be able to get me out. I was very anxious."

Dr Kabiku arranged for a friend in South Africa to send the invitation needed for a three-week visitor's visa.

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