Abbey Kiwanuka

Founder of Out and Proud African LGBTI he/him

I started a group in 2013 after realising that there were not many groups out there who were authentically helping LGBT asylum seekers from Africa. I realised that most other charities were more about making money than supporting people. The reason I did it that was to recover from depression after being tortured in my country and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

We want to be like a family. Because I’m the one who’s there for you. You are the one who’s there for me. We can support you. We can get you some accommodation. If you are in the country undocumented, we can liaise with some lawyers.

For example, someone from the UK Home Office used to ask ‘What inspired you to be gay?’ I mean, what am I going to say? It’s like, oh, this is a habit. Or this is something which you are not. And you run away from your country, from people who are saying ‘No, this is not you. This is a Western thing. You are African. You can’t be gay’. And when you come to this country, you face a white man interviewing you and say to you ‘What inspired you?’. So it’s like you’ve run out of places to run, people who are going to accept you, but we fought it and today that question has been eliminated. No one can ask you such question because they’re degrading you.

Right now as a charity, funding is one of the most difficult things. I volunteer two days for the charity and work for another four days’. But personally if I had a choice I would love to do this job full time.

And our podcast involves lawyers, legal advisors, HIV campaigners, and people with inspiring stories. One of the people I helped is now a lecturer at a public university. We want such people to come tell their stories and someone might say ‘Okay, if this person can do it, I can do it as well’. When you tell your story and speak up about what’s happening in the community, people are willing to help.