Joshua J., a 28-year-old gay man from Nigeria, is hoping the Italians will let him seek refuge. Because if they send him back to Nigeria, his advocates insist, he faces prison and even death.
Feeling his homeland in 2008, Joshua now lives in Teramo on Italy’s east coast. He’s been repeatedly ordered to leave the country — demands he’s ignored for fear of being sent to jail, whipped, and possibly murdered by family members (or their sympathizers) of another man he was having sex with, according to the human rights outfit EveryOne Group. Like many of Uganda’s gays, in 2008 Joshua had his name and photo published in The Nigeria Observer after police issued an arrest warrant. He now was a three-month temporary visa while Italian official review his asylum claim, which he filed Nov. 2. (A little disturbingly, Everyone Group describes Joshua’s sexual partner as a “boy,” though it’s unclear of the age of Joshua’s one-time partner.)
EveryOne Group is focusing its efforts directly on Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni — who, sadly, belongs to the administration of Silvio Berlusconi, who’d rather hang around prostitutes than ever be labeled gay.