Ugandan Gay-Rights Activist Living In Cambridge Seeks U.S. Asylum

John Abdallah Wambere sits in his Cambridge apartment. (Gabrielle Emanuel/WBUR)
John Abdallah Wambere sits in his Cambridge apartment. (Gabrielle Emanuel/WBUR)

A Ugandan gay-rights activist will seek asylum in the U.S. to escape a harsh anti-homosexual law in his home country.

Three days after John Wambere came to the U.S. for a speaking tour, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act on Feb. 24. Under this strict law, Wambere could face life imprisonment for being openly gay or for advocating for gay rights.

The 41-year-old Wambare who now lives in Cambridge said Tuesday it is heartbreaking he will have to leave his community at home as well as his 16-year-old daughter, but it is too dangerous to return.

In the past 14 years, Wambere says he has been jailed, harassed, and had his life threatened.

"It's not safe. It's not safe," he told WBUR. "First and foremost, if I may not even go through security at the airport. Or if I did I may not even spend a couple of days sleeping in the house before getting arrested. I am in between jail and death."

His lawyers say seeking asylum could take months but are hopeful it will be granted.

With reporting by The Associated Press and WBUR's Gabrielle Emmanuel


This article was originally published on May 06, 2014.


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