Thursday, February 24, 2011

Gay, Deaf Ugandan 
Granted U.S. Asylum

Back in the autumn, I became acquainted with Billy Urich of Connecticut who wears a a few fabulous hats, including the Chair InterPride Committee on International GLBTI Human Rights hat. Billy offered support for my efforts on behalf of gay Serbians who were attempting a gay pride march in the face of much political and religious hatred and intolerance.

Billy not only assisted in finding folks to attend a rally at the Serbian Mission to the United Nations, he also paid his own way to Belgrade to march in that city's first pride parade in almost a decade.

Today I heard from him, as he bears some genuinely good news about a gay Ugandan. Yeah, you read that right - a positive development for a gay man from this African nation. Here's what has happened:

Yesterday I traveled to the JFK Federal Building in Boston to appear as a witness on behalf of a gay Ugandan, Festival Coordinator and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Compliance officer for Connecticut PRIDE. This Ugandan citizen, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, petitioned for a stay of deportation and had requested US asylum.

For some time now, I have been working with his attorney, Marisa DeFranco, to keep the US government from sending his back to Uganda. We all know what happens there.

His case is unique in that he is not only gay, but is also hearing impaired since the age of 10 when an incorrect treatment for malaria in his village in Uganda left him deaf. There are no protections or accommodations for people with disabilities in Uganda.

That fact, complicated by his homosexuality, would surely have made him another sad statistic if he were to be sent back.

Because of attorney DeFranco's constant, diligent vigilance and amazingly thorough work over the past year and a half, it gives me an extreme pleasure to announce that the Ugandan has been granted asylum by the United States government and is no longer faced with the threat of deportation back to his native Uganda.

I should also add that the hundreds of hours of attorney DeFranco's superior work were completely pro bono.We at Connecticut PRIDE are deeply grateful for her dedication and hard work and share a huge sigh of relief with the Ugandan.

Let's all wish him the best of luck, now that he has been granted this important asylee status.

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