September 16, 2014 – Reported in the Metro Section of the Boston Globe – Federal immigration officials are recommending that the United States grant asylum to a prominent gay-rights activist who feared death threats and anti-gay repression in his native Uganda.
John Abdallah Wambere hailed the decision in an emotional interview Tuesday shortly after he learned of it, and vowed to continue advocating for gay rights in Uganda from abroad.
“I’m so excited. I’m overwhelmed,” he said by telephone from New York, where he had attended a gay-rights benefit the night before. “I felt like standing on the streets and shouting out to the whole world.”
US Citizenship and Immigration Services issued a letter on Sept. 11 recommending Wambere for asylum, though the final approval is still pending a mandatory background check, according to the letter posted Tuesday by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Boston legal nonprofit handling his case.
US immigration officials declined to comment because asylum cases are confidential.
Wambere, a tall, softspoken man with a daughter back home, battled for gay rights for more than 14 years in Uganda. He said he has been evicted, arrested three times, and beaten unconscious because he is gay. He also received anonymous death threats, including in 2011, after his friend, gay-rights leader David Kato, was bludgeoned to death.