A United States Federal Appeals court in St. Louis has denied a gay Zimbabwean man’s application for asylum in that country and has ordered that he be sent home. William J. Kimumwe had applied for asylum on the basis that he needed protection from persecution as a gay man by his country’s authorities.

Kimumwe, who has been living in the United States since 2000, initially appealed for asylum after he arrived. His request was rejected, which led to the recent appeal. Now residing in Minneapolis, he cited examples of being expelled from school for having sex with another boy as a child, and being arrested in 1998 for another gay sexual encounter in Zimbabawe.

The court panel however concluded, 2 to 1, that in both cases he was not necessarily targeted because of his homosexuality.

The one dissenting judge, Gerald Heaney, believed Kimumwe’s testimony and pointed out that Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe has repeatedly made homophobic statements, calling gays worse than pigs, and threatening to eradicate them from the country.

In his judgement he wrote that, “Our country ought not sanction the return of an openly gay man to a country whose leader has vowed to rid the country of homosexuals.”

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