By: Fr Anthony Musaala
African LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, intersexual) persons are already among the most alienated and stigmatized people in their own countries, but the level of rejection and trauma increases significantly when they become asylum seekers.
This is mainly due in to the severing of family ties, because of rejection. Most LGBTI asylum seekers cite rejection and threats by close family members, including parents, siblings and extended family members as reasons for seeking asylum.
Physical and psychological violence is frequently visited upon African LGBTIs not only by state and community actors but also by family members, resulting in necessary severance of all family ties.
Since family ties play an important role in African life, and because African economies already tend to exclude many of her people who must remain economically dependent on each other, levels of poverty among African LGBTIs would already be high in their own countries if their is severance of family ties
When they seek asylum, levels of poverty increase and may even reach the level of destitution.
This is because, when LGBTI Africans seek asylum in other African states which also criminalize non-heterosexual orientations, there are few networks of psycho-social support which can adequately address their needs.
African LGBTI asylum seekers in second African countries face homophobia from other Africans, both within charitable institutions and international bodies, which are meant to assist them in their place of refuge.
This leads to the predicament of ‘’double –alienation’’ for African asylum seekers. Alienation from their home country, and alienation in the ‘receiving’ countries.
During this Christmas season let us remember all those who cannot ”find an inn” on account of having been rejected or stigmatized. The humble ”stable” and ”manger of life” in which many have to live at the moment, hard as it is, is not the end.
It can still be a place of hope and ”glad tidings” as Bethlehem was for the shepherds. That is my belief.
Merry Christmas. Fr Anthony Musaala