London’s LGBT+ Catholic community: “It only took 18 years to get asylum!”
Media release LGBT+ Catholics Pastoral Council (UK), 16 september 2021
London’s LGBT+ Catholic community which gathers at Mayfair’s Farm Street Jesuit Church is rejoicing after an eighteen-year long fight to support the asylum claim of one of its LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council members.
Godfrey Kawalya, a gay Ugandan refugee, LGBT campaigner and a member of LGBT Catholics Westminster, has been living in Britain since 2002. In Uganda, where same sex acts are illegal and punishable by life imprisonment, he says he was expelled from secondary school, sacked from his job and rejected by his family for being gay. He was also an active member of the political opposition to the current president, Yoweri Museveni. After he fled from Kampala to rebel-held territories in Northern Uganda, Kawalya said he was attacked and robbed, and a friend who sheltered him was killed. He escaped to Kenya with the help of some nuns and eventually made his way to England.
He originally claimed asylum on the grounds of his political opposition to Museveni but later, on renewing his application, he also sought asylum on the grounds of his sexual orientation. The Home Office refused to accept that he was a gay man and rejected numerous appeals in spite of interventions from MP’s and a petition which gathered nearly three and a half thousand signatures.
Godfrey received news from his solicitor on 14 September 2021 that the Home Office had finally granted his application to remain in the UK, having previously given him legal Permission to Work. Godfrey said: “Once here, I was made to do forced labour for over a year to pay off the debt to the traffickers. It was only when I discovered Soho and then joined the LGBT Catholics Westminster group that I started feeling like I was at home”.
Godfrey Kawalya has been a member of the LGBT+ Catholics Westminster Pastoral Council since 2013 and is a point of reference for other LGBT+ refugees and asylum-seekers seeking support, also welcoming those attending Farm Street Church’s 2nd & 4th Sunday evening Masses. He is active in many African community groups in London, particularly the African Equality Foundation – https://africanequalityfoundation.org.uk/
LGBT+ Catholics Pastoral Council