John Bosco told his story at the LGBT Rights in Africa event at SOAS. He realised he is “gay” by the age of 18. He only knew what “gay” meant from the taunts of fellow pupils. He didn’t come out in fear of arrest, but he couldn’t control the feelings that he felt.
“Nobody wants to be gay in Uganda but you are what you are.”
A gay bar he visited was raided in 2001. He escaped police, yet people tracked his home down where his brother was taken and questioned about John, who wasn’t there. His brother didn’t know of his whereabouts and was beaten and ultimately killed.
Bosco then sought asylum in the UK in September that year and went through immigration hell in inhumane detention centres. Freed later, he had to report to the police daily. After his asylum appeal was rejected several times over the next years he returned to a detention centre and was then forcefully put on a flight back to Uganda in 2008. He told the immigration officers that he would be killed but they said “We told the Ugandan officials nothing”, suggesting that if he keeps quiet, he will be fine.
Yet nothing was fine as the police in Uganda was aware of his identify from the bar raid seven years ago. Since being gay is illegal, he had to bribe his way to freedom coming out of the airport with 500£. People said, he would want to be gay so he could come to the UK and this shows how homosexuality is perceived as something foreign that doesn’t naturally happen in Africa.
He flew back to the UK and but was held in the detention centre again until finally his asylum was granted in May 2009.
Bosco said even the Home Office in Britain treats you differently as a gay. He was asked for example to prove that he would be gay while applying for asylum. He was told if they allowed him in, “all gays from Uganda would come”. “Many solicitors on top are also reluctant to take up cases of gay refugees”, he said.
More on John’s case on Gays Without Borders