African gays in U.S. and abroad seek legal help amid spate of harsh criminal penalties

Due to the draconian laws recently passed in several African countries, being an LGBT person in Africa brings many challenges. Members of the LGBT community live in constant fear. They face heavy criminalization in 38 African countries and a death penalty in four. Liberia is one of the most recent countries to pass an anti-LGBT law. Because of the danger to LGBT people, many are seeking political asylum in countries such as United States. 

The Washington Post reports:

“Before there was cultural prohibition, but it was not on the books. Now the animosity is growing, and the fear is spreading,” said Bill, 47, who spoke on the condition that his full name not be used because he is afraid for his safety. “It’s ironic that I am living in Maryland, a state that allows same-sex marriage, but if I go home, I would be committing a major crime.”

“As soon as the Ugandan law was announced, we began to hear from Ugandans who wanted to get out,” said Aaron Morris, legal director at Immigration Equality, an advocacy group in New York. “We heard from more than a dozen the first day, then another dozen the second day. Uganda has been dangerous for years, but this is a major change. It has had a critical impact on people’s sense of security.”

Since the laws have passed, many more seek help in a form of an asylum. The growing numbers of applications shows the extent to which LGBT individuals in African countries fear of living in their home countries.