America, land of the free, home of the brave, welcomes foreign immigrants into its borders under many scenarios, the most dicey of which comes ’round with asylum seekers. This class of folks — refugees of an oppressive state, or community — are arguably the most deserving of a new home, because their old land was a place of violence, or menace, or oppression. So if Uganda’s lawmakers pass the Kill The Gays bill, which will permit the execution of any HIV-person person who has sex with someone of the same gender, and allow the lifetime imprisonment of anyone person who has gay sex, won’t Uganda’s queers become worthy of asylum? More importantly, will America welcome them?
The U.S. isn’t saying. Or, perhaps, State Department officials haven’t reached a decision whether asylum will be considered for Uganda’s gays. (These five U.S. representatives, however, might have.)
At a meeting on Friday between Johnnie Carson (the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs) and some 30 Gay Inc. groups including HRC (which reported details back), Carson was asked about asylum. “He promised to follow-up with the appropriate government officials to ensure that appropriate plans can be made to assist such individuals,” relays HRC.
Carson is the same guy whose office claims to have repeated assurances from Uganda President Museveni that he will veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. But if lawmakers score a two-thirds majority, his veto power will be moot. And there’s a very real possibility — given overwhelming anti-gay views among lawmakers and the populace — things may play out that way.
Which is why the U.S. needs to work on a plan, immediately, about how we can keep Uganda’s gays safe. And if that means welcoming into our own country, so be it. Because we’re champions of human rights, aren’t we? Yup, this further opens up an already on-going battle about whether persecuted gays should receive asylum in the U.S., given the dozens of African countries that criminalize homosexuality. Then again, some U.S. states have been reluctant to pull those laws off their own books.