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Gay Ugandan couple to remain in Sweden

A couple who claimed to be the first Ugandan men to be legally married have learned they will be allowed to remain in Sweden after a flurry of death threats helped sway migration officials to drop a deportation order against one of them.

Gay Ugandan couple to remain in Sweden

“It feels great. We’re so relieved that the Migration Board (Migrationsverket) finally realized the truth,” Jimmy Sserwadda told The Local.

On Thursday, Sserwadda and his husband, Ugandan national Lawrence Kaala, learned that the Migration Board had granted Kaala Swedish residency.

The decision amounts to a stunning reversal for Kaala, who had previously been ordered to leave the country after his application for asylum was denied.

The two had been married in late January in a church in suburban Stockholm in what is believed to be the first time that two Ugandan men had been wed in a church.

The ceremony was supposed to be a happy ending for the two men, who found themselves reunited in Sweden years after their relationship had been cut short due to persecution in Uganda.

While Sserwadda had been granted asylum, Kaala learned just days before the wedding that his application had been denied.

The couple scrambled to refile Kaala’s application to receive a Swedish residence permit on the basis of being married to Sserwadda, but concerns remained that Kaala would still have to return to Uganda to complete the process.

“After our story appeared in English in The Local it began to circulate in Uganda and people started making threats that we would be killed if we returned,” said Sserwadda.

“I think the explosion of media attention made migration officials realize how real the danger was. He couldn’t return after being outed like that.”

In granting Kaala’s permit, the Migration Board waived the usual requirement that resident permit applications based on marriage be filed from the person’s home country.

“Lawrence will not have to go back to Uganda,” Sserwadda explained.

While he is thrilled that he will now be able to live freely in Sweden with the love of his life, Sserwadda remains critical of the handling of their case, and cases of other asylum seekers fleeing persecution for their sexual orientation.

“It’s really a lottery. Sometimes the officials involved don’t even believe you’re gay,” he said.

Sserwadda has vowed to assist LBGT asylum seekers who seek safe haven in Sweden.

“More and more are coming from all over the world and they need our help,” he said.

David Landes

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Gay Sweden Democrat backs party’s Pride flag decision

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats' most senior openly gap MP has defended party colleagues' decision to stop flying the rainbow gay pride flag outside a local city council headquarters.

Gay Sweden Democrat backs party's Pride flag decision
Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch Thor took part in the Stockholm pride parade this August. Photo: Stina Stjernkvist/TT
Bo Broman, who has himself several times attended Sweden's largest Pride parade in Stockholm, told The Local that the rainbow flag was “an important symbol, for me and for many others”. 
 
But he said he did not believe it was appropriate for any political symbol to be flown outside a public building. 
 
“I personally don't think that any political symbol or flag representing organisations, companies, football teams and so on belongs on public flagpoles,” he said. 
 
“No matter how inportant the issue is, public flagpoles should only carry the Swedish flag, the official flag for the municipality, flags from visiting countries and perhaps that of the EU or UN.” 
 
Bo Broman, who was previously the Sweden Democrats' financial chief, became an MP after the 2018 election. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
 
The city council in Solvesborg in the county of Blekinge voted on Thursday to no longer fly the rainbow flag on the flagpole outside its offices, where it has since 2013 been hoisted once a year to show support for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people on the day of the pride parade in Stockholm. 
 
The vote has been widely criticised, with Filippa Reinfeldt, the   lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights spokesperson for the Moderate Party saying the backing the party's local wing gave to the decision was “inappropriate”.  
 
But Broman pointed out that Magnus Kolsjö, a former president of The Swedish federation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights (RFSL), had also backed Solversborg's decision. 
 
“We need to be able to keep the political, private and civil society on one side, and the state and municipality on the other,” Kolsjö, who is now a Christian Democrat politician, wrote on his blog on Sunday. 
 
“To hoist up a political symbol, even if it stands for values which many support, doesn't fit with the needs to maintain objectivity.” 
 
The council decision was pushed by the ruling four-party coalition of the Sweden Democrats, Moderates, Christian Democrats and the local SoL party.  
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