Namibia: Refugee official says gay Ugandans can’t seek asylum

Constitution and refugee law do not cover gay people: commissioner

Namibia’s commissioner for refugees says gay Ugandans cannot apply for refugee status, the Namibian Sun reports.

The report quotes Nkrumah Mushelenga as saying that there is no statute on the books that would grant gay people such status, and Namibia “will not accept them.” While Mushelenga notes that people who fear persecution because they belong to a particular social group could qualify for asylum under his country’s laws, the constitution does not cover gay people.

The question of asylum for gay people has arisen because of the case of a Ugandan refugee who has been held for more than a year in Walvis Bay, a tourism centre in Namibia. The man, who fears he will be deported, cites the persecution of gay people in his country and the recent enactment of an anti-gay law as reasons for seeking asylum.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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