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Britain Defers Deportation Of 'Gay Man' To Uganda After Petition

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A Ugandan man in Britain who says he is gay and a victim of torture has had his deportation from the UK deferred at the last minute after fears that he could face persecution on his arrival back.

A human rights organisation had petitioned Kenya Airways to stop the deportation which was due to take place at 20:00 on Thursday at Heathrow airport, after the Home Office said he had no right to remain in the country.

"Robert's removal was deferred by the Home Office in a message to his lawyer less than a hour before he was due to be flown to Kampala. An earlier request to a judge for an injunction to stop the removal was refused," his campaigners said on Thursday.

"This is a battle victory - but we have not won the war. The Home Office can still refuse to accept the fresh evidence and his asylum claim and issue new removal instructions. However his supporters will fight this and will argue that Robert's mental state and his post-traumatic stress means he should be released from detention, as well as that his claim must be given a proper hearing."

Campaigners and lawyers had argued that Segwanyi would face harsh measures, including 'mob justice' if he is sent back to his homeland.

Kerry Ann Akers of the Centre for Capital Punishment Studies told the Huffington Post UK that Uganda's lesbian and gay community 'are under constant threat, not just from the implementation of official legislation, but from the unofficial extrajudicial 'mob justice' and community led initiatives which take the form of witch hunts'.

Segwanyi arrived in Britain in June 2010, claiming he had been the victim of imprisonment and torture as a result of his sexual persuasion in his native Uganda. He applied for asylum a fortnight later. However, The UK Border Agency judge did not accept Segwanyi's plea.

Judge Hembrough was not convinced of Segwanyi's sexuality, nor that Uganda is an unsafe country for a homosexual to reside in.

In November 2010, the judge said, "Even if I am wrong regarding the appellant's homosexuality, I see no reason to depart from the current country guidance".

However, Segwanyi's supporters argue that there is both evidence that Segwanyi is gay and that Uganda is not a safe place for gay people.

The judge said he doubted Segwanyi's credibility in the interviews with the Border Agency as he gave inconsistent answers. However, Professor Cornelius Katona, Honorary Professor in the Department of Mental Health Sciences at University College London, psychologically examined Segwanyi and gave evidence that Segwanyi's "very limited" spoken English would have caused confusion in those interviews. The judge dismissed this evidence.

Katona, after his psychological assessment, considered Mr Segwanyi both to be gay and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, the judge mistakenly claimed that Katona had concluded Segwanyi was not gay. Katona later pointed out that this was "with respect, incorrect".

Segwanyi is still being deported despite the fact that, since the ruling in November, the Home Office has changed its line on the safety of homosexuals in Uganda - in keeping with an Amnesty International report published in January 2011.

Amnesty explained that there was an 'anti-homosexuality' Bill being debated in the Ugandan Parliament. One of the clauses was the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, the definition of which included being a ‘serial offender’ in having gay sex. Though the Bill did not go through in the end, there remains a huge threat to the gay community, and the Home Office accordingly revised its stance in April.

Kerry Ann Akers believes that 'whether the judge is correct or not about Mr Segwanyi's sexual orientation, the publicity the case has received will now have severely prejudiced Mr Segwanyi's safety upon his return to Uganda'.

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Filed by Olivia Williams