Sweden | Married Ugandan Gay Men victims of ‘lottery’ asylum system

Posted January 29, 2013 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Life Stories ~ 29,381 views


Two Ugandan men living in Sweden, who claim they are the first gay couple from their country to get married, may be separated once again after a lucky reunion following a decision by the Swedish Migration Board.

Lawrence Kaala and Jimmy Sserwadda were married last week at a small church in Järfälla, a suburb north of the Swedish capital, Stockholm.

It was fortuitous that the pair were even in the same country, as they had fled Uganda separately after facing persecution for their sexuality.

Mr Sserwadda left in 2008 after being arrested and beaten for “promoting homosexuality”. He left behind his long term partner, Mr Kaala, as “he would have insisted on coming with and that would have put our lives at risk.”

Mr Sserwadda was then granted asylum in Sweden and became active in the local LGBT community as a member of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), through which he helped other LGBT asylum seekers with their claims.

RFSL ran published a story about the Swedish Migration Board and how getting a successful asylum claim could be a lottery in a 2011 edition of their magazine, Kom Ut (Come Out). The story ran with a prominent photograph of Mr Sserwadda.

By chance, Mr Kaala had also been forced to seek asylum in Sweden. When he saw a copy of Kom Ut bearing Mr Sserwadda’s likeness he got in touch.

“I was shocked. I thought it was a joke,” Mr Sserwadda says of the call he received from Mr Kaala.

“When we finally met in person, Lawrence said, ‘Yes, darling it’s me!’ As we hugged he then asked me why I had left.”

Mr Kaala forgave Mr Sserwadda for leaving, having “never stopped loving” him. The couple quickly rekindled the relationship that had been broken up three years earlier. As equal marriage is legal in Sweden, they were able to fulfill a wish to get married which they had first spoken of in Uganda.

Mr Sserwadda said: “If we could have gotten married in Uganda if we would have and when we found each other again here in Sweden it felt natural to go ahead with it.”

However, the marriage cannot guarantee that the two will be able to remain together. Mr Kaala learnt days before the ceremony that his asylum application had been denied despite having made a similar claim to Mr Sserwadda, and having scars from beatings he received for being gay in Uganda to prove it.

“A lot of the rejections are strange. It’s as if they have no concept of what LGBT asylum seekers face back home,” Ulrika Westerlund of RFSL told Swedish paper The Local.

Mr Kaala could return to Uganda to file a residency claim on the grounds that he is married to a man with permanent leave to remain in Sweden, but doing so after being openly married to another man would likely be a death sentence.

Instead, the couple are pinning their hopes on appealing the decision, which they must do before February 11th to avoid deportation.

“We haven’t had time for a honeymoon. We’ve been working around the clock since the wedding to get things in order,” said Mr Sserwadda.

LGBT people in Uganda are at a particularly high risk of danger as the country had planned to pass a severely anti-gay bill, commonly known as the “kill the gays” bill, in December last year. The motion was delayed and the future of the bill remains unclear.

Source – Swedish Online News


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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    U two will rot in hell.


    To the editor
    re: Filling the vacuum in the Diaspora; lessons for persons of Ugandan descent
    There are points I want to bring to the minds of readers of this very important paper. The paper is both a notice-board and a cultural manifestation by Ugandans in the diaspora. There is a self evident belief and confidence we humans are capable of. It s what makes us get aware of our surroundings and seek to utilize them for our benefit. We get exposed to human life and cognizance that we could have made it better were we to be given a chance (second chance). This does not mean we were failures in a pre-diaspora life. True so much could have been destroyed but there are those who are in the diaspora knowing they came to pursue full life’s meaning. A moving target. There are also those who still look at life from a bitter angle. Persons who are still bitter and angry at what they think is ‘not’ good in their eyes. Amidst all this the diaspora offers stimuli of vast characteristics ranging from visual, aural, sensory to tactile that was not possible in Uganda. We come to learn skills to manipulate the stimuli for our good. This is what improves our competences. As we gain and improve on our competences we are improving on our resilience as Ugandans in the diaspora. We are able to socialize, have homes, have permanent addresses, engage in home-making, get children to schools, engage in community services and contribute to the hosting diaspora. These are the soft milestones we should celebrate everyday! Ugandans were missing out in the diaspora until around 1970s. Regime changes contributed to this. Many countries have contributed increasing numbers of their people in the diaspora. Uganda, a late 20th Century diaspora bloomer has a unique typography in the various host nations. Whereas other countries may boast of learned, professional, skilled and economic immigrants or visitors to host countries, Uganda has only contributed such caliber in latter years of the 20th Century. The diaspora is a patch-work of communities with roots of countries of origin. These communities have gone into a range of specialties which offset dislocation issues and act as survival mechanisms in the diaspora. A cursory exploration of immigrants from Africa in Australia, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and USA into who is working where will give you a picture of what am arguing. Just ask yourself: Who are in the auto-parts garages? Who are in the health-care services? Who are running worship centers? Who are running refugee support centers? Who are running eating places (dunkin’ donut for instance)? Who are running hair salons? Who are running thrift shops? who are running small business centers ( photocopiers, sending mail, fax and stationery)? Who are in hotels? One will find an established network of who is who and this will have a leaning towards countries of origin. It is also makes community networks a potential for establishing thriving businesses and livelihoods. Which brings me to two concluding points. Western medicine meeting African medicine and the concepts of human development. Back in Uganda a child who was rather precocious, inconsistent, in-disciplined and highly active was thought to be also ‘very stubborn’ and the stick was never far away. In the diaspora we have been exposed to research and care for problem children (children with adjusting problems is a more friendlier term). We have now been taken through an understanding of ADHD ( Attention deficit hyperactive disease), we have also come across information on effect of saturated sugars in sweets and puddings on under fives. Many stories of children who are overly active after a high sugar intake are rife. We can now relate tolerably and know how well to treat our ADHD children. We have learnt this parent- filial tolerance and now have improved on our ADHD awareness. I happened to be in Gulu, Uganda with a friend some years back who told me of a story of a family that had resorted to locking up children as treatment to ADHD. I shared with him a similar experience in Mukono (Uganda). I have another friend of mine from Teso and now in Norway, doing a PhD thesis on this condition among children. Soon many families will adopt practices that regard their ADHD children positively. I want to end with a point on sexuality, orientation, gender and identity ( SOGI). Recently, we have read about a gay Ugandan-Swed couple who formally exchanged vows. I have friends who cast a vitriolic salvo at this happening. I also have friends who say in the interest of dignity we need to look at the human picture. What will it take to look at those who do not “appear” like the rest to be seen as human beings who deserve dignity, respect, positive regard and tolerance ? As an end-to-HIV-specialist-activist I believe formal marriage is a path to reducing on number of multiple concurrent sexual partners and this is a crucial lifestyle goal in preventing HIV /STDs. Ugandans are now able to travel to other countries and assimilate in the first world. Let us be open to tolerant practices and encourage re-assessment into what is blocking our understanding of other human beings.

    Kasolo Jack

    You are too wordy,Tom M. Just get straight to the point that Uganda should accept gays. But remember every country and its people, have their own culture. First tell the western world to accept polygamy as a lifestyle, then you can talk about being open to tolerate strange practices. I am sure you are one of the brain washed Ugandans in the diaspora.

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