A gay man in Britain and a lesbian in Massachusetts have been fighting bureaucratic obstacles that could lead to their deportation to their home countries, where homosexuality is a criminal offense.
In one case, Felix Wamala, 41, was scheduled to be sent back to Uganda today (May 4) from London because he couldn’t meet an impossible demand — to prove he is gay — which was crucial to his appeal for protection from danger back home.
In the second case, Gloria, 24, from Pakistan faces deportation from the United States even though she is married to an American citizen. Her marriage to Jacquelyn is only recognized in Massachusetts, not at the federal level, so she is ineligible for the legal protections that a traditional marriage confers.
U.S. Sen. John Kerry of Massachusets has asked for delay in federal action on Gloria’s case in hopes for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which limits federal recognition of marriage rights to marriages between a man and a woman. As Gay Star News reports, Kerry wrote of Gloria,
“She is certain that if she is forced to return to Pakistan, her life will be in danger, not only because of her sexual orientation and her marriage to a United States citizen, but for religious reasons as well.”
The family names of Gloria and Jacquelyn are being withheld for their safety, in case Gloria is deported.
Barring a last-minute reversal, Wamala will be sent back to Uganda today (May 4).
He told Gay Star News that:
He fled Uganda after being persecuted for his sexuality and is afraid of what might happen to him if he returns.
He said: ‘I don’t consider myself any different from anyone else in Uganda who is gay.
‘The ones who are there, maybe they have found a way of living but most people are in hiding.”
Wamala says he can’t prove he is gay.
A spokesman for advocacy group Schools Out says the Border Agency makes an impossible demand:
“[The agency is] demanding evidence of their sexuality, but of course they don’t have it. They’ve been in the closet and hiding so of course they don’t have evidence of their sexuality. It’s a catch 22.”