September 20, 2014 – Reported by MSBC – Banding together charities, civil rights attorneys, and one social-minded disc jockey, a prominent Ugandan activist has gone from a country whose anti-gay persecution echoes the murderous reign of Idi Amin to living in the first American state where same-sex couples could legally wed.
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Last week, John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere was approved for asylum pending a routine background check by the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services, the group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) announced this week. The 41-year-old Wambere, who had fought for the rights of LGBT Ugandans for nearly two decades, had been in Massachusetts for seven months – a relatively short time period for an asylum seeker to find success and safety.
Initially, Wambere had no intention of permanently leaving Uganda, where he’s parent to both a daughter and an LGBT health services organization, Spectrum Uganda Initiatives. But returning home became impossible when, days after his arrival in the U.S., Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which made so-called “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment.
The measure was recently overturned on procedural grounds, but lawmakers have vowed to reintroduce it. And even if they fail, the climate for LGBT Ugandans has already grown considerably worse in recent years…