Ali Dawodu was a gay man in Nigeria where same-sex sexual activity is a crime. A public display of same-sex affection, a visit to a gay club or involvement in a LGBTQI organization can mean 10 -14 years in prison. Despite the risks, Ali created an underground LGBTQI support network so that others would not have to struggle alone. When the network was discovered, Ali was attacked and his partner murdered in front of him. Fearing for his life, Ali fled to the United States seeking asylum.
Once in the United States, his troubles were not over. Detained at Rikers Island by a hostile immigration detention system, Ali was held for six months awaiting an asylum hearing. Queer and transgender immigrants are 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in U.S. detention centers and often face discrimination such as being denied hormone medications or being held in solitary confinement “for their own safety.”
But Ali was not without friends. The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project (QDEP), a UUSC partner, was there to help. During his detention, QDEP visited him regularly and advocated on his behalf. With their help, Ali was released from Rikers and granted asylum status. QDEP continues to support him with help in housing and job training.
In partnering with QDEP, UUSC is our voice for human rights, right here in the United States. Please help this work continue by contributing online at www.uusc.org or bringing your contribution to our “Setting the Table” service on November 19. And when you take home a jar of local honey from Doyle Dobbin’s own hives available at coffee hour, 100% of your purchase will be donated to UUSC.