Mable: I am free now

She is free from persecution in Uganda


Uganda, part of the Commonwealth, has a long history of anti-LGBT+ climate, with discrimination and violence against the LGBT+ community being common.


Mable own words: 

I grew up in a strict, conservative and religious family in Uganda.

When I reached puberty, I realised I was attracted to women, which was taboo in our conservative community and with my religious Reverend father.

For a long time, I struggled with my sexuality, unsure how to reconcile my feelings with my religious and cultural beliefs. However, at no point did I even consider myself a lesbian.

Finally, I confided in a close friend who shared the same feelings, and we started a romantic relationship.

However, our secret was soon discovered when we were caught in bed together at our boarding school.

I was terrified as my parents were called. My father, deeply ashamed and disappointed, was in a furious rage. He threw me in the car and drove away. I did not know where he was taking me as we drove past our house. I was dumbfounded when the car stopped in front of the police station. There he dragged me and left me in the hands of homophobic police officers.

The police officers listened to my father. I was too terrified to say anything. My father left. I was alone with these men at the police station. Since my father was the reverend, they knew him, and at worse, I thought they would scare me.

I was so wrong. It hurts me even today knowing that my father was complicit in what happened.

These men behaved like monsters. I was beaten up in the police station, punched, my hair pulled and mercilessly kicked on the floor. They said they were doing it for my own good. They said they were correcting me. They said I should thank them for putting me on the right path. These policemen were meant to protect me, yet they abused me senselessly. My whole body was in pain, my mind was confused, and all I wanted was for the pain to stop. Who could I trust now when my father let something like this happen?

All this happened at the height of the homophobia craze in Uganda when the tabloid newspaper “Red Pepper” published photos of homosexuals on its front page. Many people were chased and hounded following the publications. It was a hard time to be around. I was terrified that I might see my photo in print. What would then happen to me?

When I got back home, I felt no longer welcome. It felt like a dark, cold place. Some days, I was locked in my room without food, almost like a prison. Only my elder sister showed some understanding and pity for me. For that, I would be ever grateful to her. My father, claiming to be a man of God, said that I was an abomination. He said he would not hesitate to kill me numerous times, that I brought terrible shame on the family, and that I was heartless to bring that sin into our family. I felt threatened every day. I was desperate to find a sanctuary where I could be myself.

Fearing for my safety and receiving death threats, I moved away. I felt compelled to leave everything behind. Leaving was so hard for me. I was even ready to go anywhere. I was desperate.

I finally reached the UK in 2018 and applied for asylum. I felt so lonely in the UK. However, I built my network over the years and made new friends. I now run an LGBT+ podcast and interviews with the Out and Proud African LGBTI group. They and the Peter Tatchell Foundation helped me to feel welcome and gave me the feeling of being at home. Somewhere, I was accepted.

The years went by. I kept waiting. My whole life was in limbo. I was unable to work. While my case was being processed, I was requested to sign in at a reporting centre with the Home Office so they could keep track of my whereabouts. Each time I went there, I was assailed with tremors as I did not know what would happen then. Would they let me go? Would they send me to detention? I heard from many about their horrific experience of being placed in confinement. I knew that some people had died there. Others had been raped or faced homophobic bullying. Worse of all, I was afraid I might be deported. If I was to be sent to Uganda, I am sure I would have been lynched. I lived in utter fear during that time.

Eventually, four years later, I received an e-mail from the Home Office confirming my refugee status. For half an hour, I sat in the corner, thinking that I was about to wake up and this was a dream. I kept asking the people around me to read the e-mail just in case I had misunderstood it. Again, I tried hard to convince myself I had finally been granted refugee status. But, again, I could not believe it.

Now, this is a new life for me in the UK. It is a fresh start. But I am determined to make the most of it. I am so thankful that my life has been saved and can now look to the future. I am still determining what my next move would be. I have been waiting so long that I still think it is a dream. Some days I worry that someone might come around and tell me there was a mistake and I must leave. But it does feel a heavy weight has been removed from my shoulders.

One of the first things I would still like to do is to help others going through a similar journey. I felt so alone before, and I would hate anyone to go through what I have gone through. Perhaps, at a later stage, I would like to continue my studies. I had put everything on hold, and now I can pick it up. It is a new journey I am embarking on, full of opportunities and hope. It is a new life for me. THANK YOU.