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Trump’s “shithole” Comment Impacts LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

Trump’s “shithole” Comment Impacts LGBTQ Asylum Seekers

President Trump’s proclivity for racist remarks comes as no surprise to me. His now- infamous comment stating a preference for immigrants coming from a Scandinavian country like Norway than from Africa and Haiti which he depicts as “shithole” countries with nothing to offer the U.S is based solely on his ignorance (Also, Mr. President, Africa is a continent.). As some matter-of-fact, black African immigrants are the most educated demographic group in the U.S., surpassing those of us born here- black or white. According to the Los Angeles Times, they come from five major countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South African.

While Trump’s comment will now make it more difficult for these immigrants to enter the U.S. the challenge, however, will be particularly arduous for its LGBTQ asylum seekers.These people flee their countries to avoid criminalization, torture, violence, public persecution, political scapegoating and moral cleansing.

Many of the governments they flee argue they do not like the world’s interference in their business, especially the U.S. They contend that being LGBTQ are anathemas to African and Afro-Caribbean identities, cultural and family values, and it’s one of the many ills brought over by white Europeans (a similar homo/transphobic polemic still argued among religious and uninformed conservative African Americans). Sadly, the debate between” authentically "African” and Western colonial remnants always finds some way to dispute the reality of the black LGBTQ existence. Therefore, coming out LGBTQ in many of the African and Caribbean countries is dangerous.

For example, approximately thirty-eight of fifty-four countries in the African continent criminalizes same-gender consensual activity. We all have heard of the human rights abuses of Uganda’s LGBTQ population. The country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill dubbed “Kill the Gays bill” criminalized same-sex relations. And, depending on which category your sexual behavior was classified as —” aggravated homosexual” or “the offense of homosexuality”—you’d either receive the death penalty or if lucky life imprisonment.

Gay activist David Kato was the father of Uganda’s LGBTQ rights movement. He didn’t live to receive either punishment. Kato, beaten to death with a hammer, was murdered in January 2011. John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere, a friend of Kato’s and co-founder of Spectrum, an LGBTQ rights organization, is an activist, too. Fleeing from persecution Wambere was approved asylum in 2014. He now lives in my ‘hood” of Cambridge, MA.

And last summer, at the 2017 DignityUSA conference in Boston Warry Joanita Ssenfuka, director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG), spoke