Gay Zambian denied refuge in South Africa

In a recent story shared by Exit Newspaper a young man recounts the trauma of having to flee his home country of Zambia because of his sexual orientation only to be denied refugee status by the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Anold Mulaisho said that he has had to leave his well-paid government job because homosexuality in Zambia is punishable for up to 14 years imprisonment, under the sections 155 to 157 of the Penal Code which states that “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” is a felony.

Mulaisho’s ordeal began back in January 2016 when he made the mistake of revealing to his boss at the Zambian Department of Water Affairs that he was gay and that he had a boyfriend. When news got out about Mulaisho, who says that news spread fast, he was forced to leave the country in a hurry out of fear for being arrested.

Via a bus from Zimbabwe he was able to make it to South Africa in January 2017, and on arrival in central Johannesburg, he was robbed, and lost his laptop. Since 1 July 2017, Anold has had to go often to the Department of Home Affairs in downtown Pretoria where he would be given an Asylum Seeker Temporary Permit valid for only one week at a time.

“I was interviewed by a male officer…(who) asked me why I was there. I said because of my sexual orientation. The officer laughed and called another officer. They both laughed….. The officer (said)… that if I claim to be a ‘gay’, why is it that I am not wearing make-up…. He asked if I have sex – am I the woman or the man?” says Anold in a sworn affidavit.

The atrocious line of questioning by Home Affairs officials have brought into question the training and qualifications of the staff of the Department of Home Affairs when dealing with these emotional cases of asylum by the LGBTQA+ community.

January 2018, Anold was told by Home Affairs that his asylum application was rejected on grounds that it is fraudulent, citing these reasons in a written document:

1. He did not play with boys but preferred to play with girls. The officer said in the document that a person who is gay would not enjoy the company of girls.
2. He would not have chosen to be gay if he was in pain after a rape incident. (He was raped at school)
3. He could not name LGBT organisations in Zambia. (There are none!)
4. He failed to give contact details of a previous lover.
5. That he could not have become a gay and be a Christian. He cannot be gay because Zambia is a Christian country.
6. He left Zambia to enter the sex work business.

Fortunately for Anold, Access Chapter 2, a non-governmental organisation that promotes and advocates for the human rights of LGBTI people, including migrants and refugees, has since stepped in to help.

Together, they are working closely with the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre to sort out Anold’s legal documents.