John "Longjones" Abdallah Wambere, who was presented the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary for his role in Call Me Kuchu, is applying for asylum in the United States. He and his attorneys from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed is application today to the US government.
John joined Allison Wright and Janson Wu of GLAD at a press conference to announce the application and answer questions.
Allison Wright noted that John came to the US on February 21 to speak and raise awareness about the plight of LGBT people in Uganda. While he was here, on February 24, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-LGBT law. The law imposed up to life in prison for LGBT people, as well as harsh penalties for anyone who supports or speaks openly about LGBT people.
"The situation in Uganda has only gone from bad to worse since John arrived in the United States to raise awareness. With the passage of the anti-homosexuality act, John now runs the risk of life in prison, simply because of who he is and because of his advocacy on behalf of the LGBTI and HIV positive communities," noted Janson Wu, Senior Staff Attorney. "The US has a long history of providing refuge for those who have been persecuted for who they are or what they believe. Here, John has been, and will continue to be persecuted in his home country for being gay and for standing up for others like him. Those are the grounds for asylum and that is why we believe the US government should grant the application without delay."
John noted the role that anti-LGBT activists have played in bringing the harsh law to Uganda. "We think the US government should come up with more, look into formalities to ensure that the US citizens do not promote or take hate crimes to other countries. But on the other side, we think that the US has been supportive since 2009, towards ensuring that the bill doesn't pass, and they were very vocal."
On April 12th, Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o presented the award for Outstanding Documentary to co-directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall and John, who was profiled in the film at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
Call Me Kuchu is a powerful documentary telling the stories of LGBT men and women in Uganda, including slain Ugandan advocate David Kato who was among the leaders of the LGBT equality movement in the country until his murder in January 2011. This year Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the "Anti-Homosexuality Act," also known as the "Jail the Gays" law, which makes it a crime not to report gay people you know, and imposes a life sentence on those convicted of being gay.