Did Ugandan Brenda Namigadde Lie About Being A Lesbian To Score British Asylum?

Brenda Namigadde, the 29-year-old Ugandan woman living in Britain who initially scored a reprieve from deportation by claiming her homosexuality would subject her to threats and violence, has renewed her appeal to avoid being shipped off. And it curiously leaves out any mention that she’s a lesbian — only that she’s been reported in the press to be one.

Now that she’s been slapped with the “lesbian” title, Namigadde remains at risk, the Telegraph relays.

Her legal team managed to secure a last-minute delay in her removal from Britain by arguing that as a homosexual she would be at risk of persecution in her African homeland. But now lawyers acting for the woman, who can be identified only as “BN”, have submitted a new appeal on her behalf – which no longer hinges on her sexuality. Instead, they say that because she has appeared in newspapers claiming to be gay, she would inevitably be at risk in Uganda whatever her true sexual orientation.

How come? Because a judge handling the case ruled Namigadde isn’t gay at all.

Earlier this month this newspaper revealed how she was unable to remember the surname, age, employer or other details of a woman with whom she claimed she had a six-year relationship in Uganda. Nor could she describe a lesbian bar in London that she claimed she visited regularly.

BN came to Britain in 2002 and overstayed her visa, later lodging an asylum claim. She claimed to have been beaten and victimised over her sexuality. The Home Office refused her claim and began deportation proceedings. Last December, immigration judge Toby Davey ruled that BN should be sent back to Uganda. He criticised the 28-year-old for a “lack of candour” over her sexuality, and concluded: “I find that the appellant was and is not, on the evidence before me, a lesbian.” Yet following the ruling, BN secured sympathetic coverage in several newspapers. Her lawyers, Luton-based Cardinal Solicitors, were quoted on the dangers she allegedly faced, and BN herself gave interviews from inside Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre.

Now Namigadde’s lawyers claim “the credibility of the applicant’s sexuality … is entirely irrelevant to the risk … that the applicant will face. … The risk derives from a widespread national public perception of the applicant being homosexual.” Which, uh, she and her representatives, it appears, conveniently manufactured. In which case: shame on them. Because while Namigadde may have decent reasons to want to stay in Britain and away from her homeland, gaming the system — and casting more speculation and cynicism on actual LGBTs who need the safe haven that asylum offers — hurts everyone.

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  • BlindedNYC

    This is like topsy turvey world. First people don’t want to be labeled as gay, then they do and then they don’t again?

    I’m familiar with the term “marriage of convenience”, but now it seems that we’re devling into “homosexuality of convenience”

  • the crustybastard

    Namigadde has convenient amnesia regarding the identity of a lesbian partner who still lives in Uganda.

    That makes perfect sense.

    It’s also quite possible that Namigadde decided (or was advised) that her claim would be buttressed by arguing, “of course I’m a lesbian, I regularly attend lesbian bars,” when in reality she may be a lesbian who doesn’t go out, which is very common. Ultimately, it’s immaterial.

    The official and extrajudicial killings of Uganda’s gays aren’t predicated on whether a person has had a gay relationship, or visits gay bars. The murders are “justified” by a person’s gay identity. Namigadde has a gay identity based on her original claims as well as subsequent news reports.

    What’s more, since the judge determined that Namigadde is insufficiently gay, it hardly behooves her to make any further legal arguments at odds with the judge’s determination.

    There’s nothing nefarious here. Calm down.

  • paulcanning

    1. It’s a Judicial Review where you can only submit new evidence.
    2. The main new evidence is a specific threat to her by David Bahati MP, the author of the ‘Kill the gays’ bill, which came *before any media attention*.

    That’s why the evidence on her sexuality is not being reviewed – it is legally irrelevant to a Judicial Review.

    The Telegraph doesn’t mention any of this because it has an anti-asylum seeker agenda and in its articles has only covered the slanted viewpoint of Home Office lawyers.

  • Brian

    I doubt many gay men in America could provide the surname, age, or employer of any of the men they’ve had sex with. I don’t see why judges should get to “rule” on someone’s sexual orientation.

    Obviously I don’t have all the facts from the trial, but what are the criteria being used to determine someone’s homosexuality? Are they character traits? Sexual arousal like that porn test in some other country? Going to gay bars? Being photographed with gay people or at gay events?

    If I was raised in a hostile environment which I might be returned to or experience repercussions for escaping from if identified in public, I’d be hesitant to attend gay bars and public rallies too.

    Is it common for people to pretend to be gay for asylum? I want to see the evidence before fear-mongering makes the decision for us.

  • Joseph

    This sensationalist post from Queerty (surprise, surprise) is highly misleading. It does not, for example, mention that the woman’s initial asylum claim was rejected because, amongst other things, the judge didn’t like that she didn’t read “gay magazines.” That fact and many others have been widely reported, but Queerty ignores it and just sources this one (anti-gay, anti-immigrant) newspaper. Also the supposition that claiming you’re gay is some sort of magic ticket for winning asylum in the UK couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact the country rejects 98% of it’s LGBT asylum applicants (see source below), and is yet another reason why any sane lawyer would structure a legal case around the threat the woman faces in Uganda (including a direct threat from a notorious and powerful anti-gay politician), versus “proving” that she’s gay.

    Gay asylum-seekers face ‘institutional homophobia’ from UK Border Agency

  • Melanie Nathan

    I am shocked at this unhelpful and uniformed report from Queerty. Paula Canning is correct. We have both spoken to legal representatives directly in the UK. David Bahati spoke to me about Brenda and he believes she is a lesbian. If Brenda goes to Uganda she is DOA !!! Period. So Queerty try and keep up with the news and facts – you are way behind. Whats more – you have picked up on specific anti gay and homophobic press out of the UK – yet failed to pick up on the friendly press. The view is one sided and is presented in that way and you fell for it!

  • Pete

    GOProud and CPAC are as gay friendly as the Ugandan Parliament. Uganda is 80% Christian (42% Catholic and 36% Anglican). The leaders of these religions need to be pressured in every country of the world to denounce what is happening in Uganda, and to direct their churchmen in Uganda to defend Human Rights of all people.

  • Kev C

    The fact is that some people scam and hustle in order to immigrate into the US and Europe. And it’s not a small problem. The attempts have included sex barter, blackmail and even murder of diplomats by those trying to immigrate. Hustlers do not help the community nor the people they scam.

  • Evan

    Let’s say I’d fled Uganda under threat of persecution and/or death because I was gay. What, exactly, in my hypothetical life experience would lead me to believe that it was a good idea to tell some judge (or any authority figure) identifying details about the partner I left behind?

    Yes, people run immigration scams. But could a supposedly pro-gay website at least do a little critical thinking before assuming that a putative LGBT refugee is a liar rather than a victim of discrimination or misunderstanding?

  • GeriHew

    I’ve heard that in Uganda when the homo-hating mob arrives at your door to beat the living shit out of you for being gay that all have you do is to tell them calmly: “Oh no kind sirs there has been some misunderstanding, I am not a homosexual. I am a bisexual.” And then they say: “Oh, OK.” And they leave you alone after that.

  • Taylor Siluwé

    This is just a sad story no matter how you look at it. Asylum seekers ARE going to sometimes be people seeking to game the system, or worst, harm the country.

    If it isn’t already happening it soon will. Naturally most will be legit, but the threat of allowing enemies into our borders can’t be downplayed.

    Still, I’m for granting asylum in these cases and erring on the side of saving our oppressed family. And to turn away someone who really needs our help because they don’t seem ‘gay enough’ is just plain wrong.

    Then, after a much publicized battle to avoid deportation, we’d have to live with ourselves when they disappear moments after arriving home.

    Just sad all around …because many gays seeking asylum are probably turned away more than we know.

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