Ugandan LGBT Activist Recommended For Asylum In U.S. John Abdallah Wambere applied for asylum in the U.S. after Uganda passed a harsh anti-gay law earlier this year. His application has now been recommended for approval, pending a background check.
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Ugandan LGBT Activist Recommended For Asylum In U.S.

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Ugandan LGBT Activist Recommended For Asylum In U.S.

Ugandan LGBT Activist Recommended For Asylum In U.S.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

An update now on a story we first brought you in May. John Abdallah Wambere is an LGBT rights activist from Uganda. Earlier this year, he was on a trip to the United States when Uganda passed a harsh anti-gay law. The law's penalties were so severe and the atmosphere in Uganda so hostile, that Wambere feared returning home would mean risking his life. So he applied for asylum in the United States. When we spoke in May, I asked him - and if it's not approved, if you're not granted asylum in the U.S., what will you do?

JOHN ABDALLAH WAMBERE: I have nowhere to go. Home is not safe. And it's not even a place I would want to think about.

RATH: This week, Wambere finally received a letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and read the words he had longed to see. Your application has been recommended for approval.

WAMBERE: I felt like flying, screaming on top of my voice, telling the whole world, you know.

RATH: We reached Wambere by phone in New York.

WAMBERE: I just felt so overwhelmed, overjoyed - felt like running in the streets of New York, screaming and jumping. You know, it was a big achievement in my life.

RATH: Wambere still has to pass a routine background check. If he does, he'll be able to remain in the U.S. But there are many more LGBT Ugandans who still face persecution in their home country.

The harsh anti-gay law was overturned in court this summer. But a penal code from the colonial era still criminalizes homosexual acts. And Maria Burnett, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told us that the situation there is dangerous and remains precarious. So John Wambere says he will continue to advocate for LGBT Ugandans.

WAMBERE: As long as we still have the battle to fight for that freedom and equality, I will never forget our (unintelligible) and say like yes, I'm happy. I'm in the U.S. It's the end of everything and - no way.

RATH: Wambere says he doesn't know exactly where he'll settle down in the U.S. But at least now he has somewhere to go.

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