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Zambian homosexual refugee denied asylum in South Africa

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A young homosexual man who was forced to leave a well-paid government job and escape Zambia because of his sexual orientation has been denied refugee asylum by the South African Department of Home Affairs.

In Zambia homosexuality is a crime punishable by 14 years imprisonment according to sections 155 -157 of the Penal Code which states “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is a felony. This provision was written long ago when Zambia was called Northern Rhodesia and belonged to the homophobic British Empire.

Anold Mulaisho knew he was gay since he was 14 when he was studying at boarding school. In January 2016 he got a job for the Zambian Department of Water Affairs but then he made a dramatic mistake and told his boss that he was gay and had a boyfriend. The rumors spread fast, and he had to escape Zambia in a hurry as he was afraid of being arrested.

He entered South Africa in January 2017 on a bus from Zimbabwe and he got robbed right after stepping of the bus.

Since 1 July 2017, Anold (then just 22) had been visiting Department of Home Affairs in downtown Pretoria regularly but he was given only an Asylum Seeker Temporary Permit valid for one week.

In his testimony about this case, Anold says, “I was interviewed by a male officer…(who) asked me why I was there. I said because of my sexual orientation. The officer laughed and called another officer. They both laughed….. The officer (said)… that if I claim to be a ‘gay’, why is it that I am not wearing make-up…. He asked if I have sex – am I the woman or the man?”

This statement clearly rises a question about the qualifications and/or training of staff of the Department of Home Affairs dealing with asylum applications filled by gay people.

On 30 January 2018 Anold received the decision by Home Affairs which stated that his application for asylum was denied because of the following written reasons:

  1. He did not play with boys but preferred to play with girls. The officer said in the document that a person who is gay would not enjoy the company of girls.
  2. He would not have chosen to be gay if he was in pain after a rape incident. (He was raped at school)
  3. He could not name LGBT organisations in Zambia. (There are none!)
  4. He failed to give contact details of a previous lover.
  5. That he could not have become a gay and be a Christian. He cannot be gay because Zambia is a Christian country.
  6. He left Zambia to enter the sex work business.

Anold now is working hard to get a different decision made by Home Affairs. He gets help from the Access Chapter 2, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for the human rights of LGBT people, immigrants and refugees.

They are working with the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception centre to prepare Anold’s legal documents. Almost any educated lawyer should be able to destroy the ridiculous reasons given for the rejection of his asylum application.

Anold’s wishes to be accepted as a gay refugee in South Africa, and needs help and support.

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