Toronto woman cites lesbian status to fight deportation to Uganda

A Toronto woman is fighting to stay in Canada, saying her life would be in danger if she is deported back to Uganda because she is a lesbian.

Leatitia Nanziri says she fears for her life if she is deported back to Uganda because of her sexual orientation

Leatitia Nanziri says if she’s forced to go home to Uganda she could be stoned to death because of her sexual orientation. (CBC)

A Toronto woman is fighting to stay in Canada, saying her life would be in danger if she is deported back to Uganda because she is a lesbian.

Leatitia Nanziri says if she’s forced to go back to Uganda she could be stoned to death. But the Canadian government has refused her claim and says it doesn’t believe she is a lesbian. 

She is scheduled to be deported Aug. 4.

"They do mob justice, by stoning you…or bringing the tire of the car," she said. "They bring it and light it and they put it on you until you melt into ashes."

Disputes on sexuality

Nanziri first fled Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, in 2004.

She told CBC News that she was outed by her girlfriend's father, then police officers beat and raped her in November 2003 and January 2004.

She says she was six months pregnant from a forced sexual encounter by the time she landed in Toronto in June 2004.  When she arrived in Canada she filed a claim for refugee status but was refused.

She then filed a humanitarian and compassionate claim in 2005, which was refused earlier in 2012.

Some of the dispute regarding her sexual orientation comes from the fact Nanziri then had a second child with a man. Nanziri says she had hoped it would make her life easier and she would no longer be alone.

"I'd never been happy…he promised me heaven on earth," she said.

However, her partner left her when he found out about her sexual past, she said.

Her last option is to get a stay of removal, which is being filed today in federal court. If a federal court judge believes her, it means the removal order will go away.

Nanziri’s lawyer, Asiya Hirji, said her children, eight-year-old Mathias, and Mary are entitled to remain in Canada.

"They should be entitled to have their mother with them," she said. 

If deported, Nanziri says she must take the children with her, because she has no family to leave them with in Canada.

"They cannot stay here," she said. "Stay here with who? They don't have anybody but me. I am their mother and their father, they depend on me."

Citizenship and immigration officials have yet to respond to questions from CBC News about the case.

With files from CBC's Priya Sankaran