An Edmonton woman is asking the federal government to reconsider its decision to deport her based on the fact she is a lesbian and her home country of Uganda views homosexuality as illegal.
Uganda is also known for being a dangerous place for those who are LGBTQ.
In 2010, Suzie Kaddu was dating another woman and came out to her parents. She said they tried to convert her into being a heterosexual, even going so far as to marry her off to a man.
Kaddu said she ran away from her husband and spent time moving from place to place as police searched for her.
“Every day, I lived in fear. Every single day, when I was outed, I lived in fear, every single day,” she said.
The Government of Canada has a travel advisory in place for Uganda with a special warning for those who are LGBTQ.
“The laws of Uganda prohibit sexual acts between individuals of the same sex. LGBTQ2 travellers should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Uganda,” reads the advisory.
In 2014, Kaddu made the decision to leave Uganda but said the only way she could do that was to get a passport under a different name than her birth name. She said police in Uganda had her name and would stop her if she tried to fly out of the country.
“My name was spread all over… I was a wanted person. I was hunted. I had to do whatever it takes to be safe,” she said.
Kaddu said she crossed the border to Kenya and ultimately made her way to Canada through Calgary. She then came to Edmonton to file her refugee claim and admits what she did next may be the reason all her applications to stay in the country have been denied.
In a statement to Global News, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) said Kaddu’s initial claim for refugee protection was refused in July 2014 and the federal court dismissed her application for leave and judicial review of the decision in December 2014.
IRCC said Kaddu was invited to apply for a Pre-Removal Assessment in 2015, which identifies if an individual is in need of protection. It said this also includes “persecution on grounds of sexual orientation.”
Kaddu’s Pre-Removal Assessment was refused in March 2016 for the following reason: “It has been determined that you would not be subject to risk of persecution, danger of torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if returned to your country of nationality.”
“Each case is assessed on its merits and if the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment outcome is negative, the individual will be removed from Canada. IRCC and the CBSA (Canada Border Services Agency) take all necessary steps to ensure that individuals will not be removed to a situation where their life will be at risk,” reads the statement from IRCC.
“It’s been hard for me to prove to Canadian Border Services Agency that I will be in danger,” Kaddu said.
“It makes me feel really hopeless. It makes me feel like I don’t belong anywhere. It makes me really feel bad because my life is in fear. I’m scared for my life.”
Kaddu has been receiving support from a friend, Adebayo Katiiti. Katiiti is also from Uganda, though the two did not know each other there, and the transgender man recently received refugee status from Canada.
“As a person who has survived this, as Canada gave me protection and Canada protect[s] me, why not protect Suzie?” he said.
Katiiti said he does not accept the government’s response to her Pre-Removal Risk Assessment application.
“It’s because they’ve never been to Uganda. It’s because they’ve never survived what it is for gay people in Uganada,” he said.
“It’s hard. It’s either death penalty or life imprisonment. That’s the law. People can stone you to death. People can kill you. I’ve lost friends who were stoned to death because they (authorities) found out they’re gay.”
Kaddu is also concerned about what the future holds for her three-year-old daughter Keturah. A removal order from CBSA states she must report to the CBSA office at Edmonton International Airport on April 23, which she said is her daughter’s birthday.
“I won’t be able to make her a cake, buy her gifts,” she said through tears.
More importantly, she is worried about how Keturah will deal with the abrupt change.
“She doesn’t know anything about Uganda. She knows here. She loves here. She goes to school here. She has friends in and out of school,” Kaddu said.
Katiiti, who has started a petition for Kaddu, is “humbly” asking the federal government to take another look at Kaddu’s application.
As for Kaddu, she is taking it one day at a time.
“I love Canada at heart. Nothing is going to change that, whether I’m deported or not,” she said.
“How do you accept going to a place where you’re going to lose your life?”