Robert Kityo

Christian asylum seeker from Uganda released from detention after doubts over his sexuality

Mon 16 Nov 2015
By Aaron James

A Ugandan Christian asylum seeker has been released from detention, despite reportedly failing to prove to the Home Office that he is gay.

Robert Kityo, 35, fears he could be killed if he's forced to go back to his home country, where homosexuality is illegal and carries up to 14 years in prison.

Mr Kityo originally came to Britain as a student, and applied for asylum after his studies ended. He lives in Manchester and worships at the city's Metropolitan Community Church.

He received a letter of support from the Bishop of Manchester Rt Revd Dr David Walker, which said: "I would say he has a well-founded case for asylum."

According to a good friend of Robert Kityo, Tony Openshaw, the Home Office originally rejected his asylum application on the grounds he had failed to prove he was gay, leading to his detention for four days.

Mr Openshaw has said the Home Office is now reconsidering his application, and Mr Kityo could appeal if it is rejected for a second time.

He told Premier's News Hour: "He was confused by the detention. It's just overwhelming because of the fear of what could've happened.

"He's totally relieved now to come out of detention but he still doesn't feel very strong. He's not really himself, the Robert that we know.

"He gets a lot of support from the church, and it is very important we believe that people who are well known such as the Bishop [of Manchester] are supporting this matter.

"The atmosphere in the country's such that people will be persecuted, will be attacked. The situation will be very bad if he has to return to Uganda."

The Home Office has told Premier it does not comment on individual cases, but it said in a statement: "The UK has a proud history of granting asylum to those who genuinely need it and every case is carefully considered on its individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.

"The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration last year praised our guidance and training on handling sexual orientation claims, stating that it was clear and concise.

"We worked closely with organisations such as Stonewall, the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to develop this training, which is now mandatory for all our caseworkers."

Listen to Premier's Antony Bushfield speaking to Tony Openshaw here:

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