Listen: “Not gay enough” gay refugee abused by PTA cops

Anold Mulaisho is a gay refugee from Zambia

Anold Mulaisho, a gay refugee from Zambia, claims that he was targeted by police

Zambian gay refugee Anold Mulaisho, who fled to South Africa to escape anti-LGBTIQ persecution, says he was humiliated and physically and verbally abused by homophobic police officers in Pretoria.

In 2018, Anold’s asylum application was rejected by South Africa’s Home Affairs department because officials absurdly refused to accept that the openly gay man is indeed gay.

Anold has been living in limbo in the desperate hope that he will eventually be allowed to stay in the country. In the meantime, the 26-year-old has little protection from the discrimination and abuse that he faces on a daily basis; not only because he is a refugee but also for being queer.

Earlier this week, a devastated Anold sent MambaOnline an emotional voice note describing how he was targeted by police officers (listen below).

On Monday 12 April, while walking from the Pretoria city centre to OUT LGBT Well-being’s Engage Men’s Health clinic, he was stopped by police. Anold claims that after the officers checked his expired asylum papers, he was bundled into a police van. (He explains that he’s been unable to renew his papers with Home Affairs because of the department’s reduced lockdown services.)

Anold alleges that, along with another detainee who was already in the van, he was driven around aimlessly by the police for more than two hours. He claims that the officers demanded a bribe and when he was unable to give them money, they mocked, humiliated and assaulted him.

“They could tell that I am gay and they started teasing me. They touched my dick and asked me ‘how do you have such a big dick as a gay man?’ The other one said ‘if you are to go to prison it would be heaven for you because every guy would want you.’ It was terrible,” Anold told MambaOnline in a phone call.

Eventually, the officers released him and he walked home, deeply shaken and traumatised. He is receiving counselling and MambaOnline has referred the matter to OUT’s LGBTI Legal Clinic.

While he hopes that opening up about the incident will help highlight the plight of other LGBTIQ+ refugees, Anold has little hope his abusers will face any consequence. “I’m too scared to go to the police  because I don’t know if it’s a safe place.” He adds: “I’m always scared – I’m really struggling with my mental health.”

In its farcical justification for refusing him asylum in 2018, Home Affairs asserted, among other reasons, that Anold could not be gay because he’d told officials that he preferred to play with girls as a child, and because he could not be both gay and a Christian.

“We have become non-entities, denied the chance to live with dignity, build a home or dream of the future. As citizens of nowhere, we are treated with contempt and violence,” Anold wrote on World Refugee Day last year.

In Zambia, those found guilty of “carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature” face 14 years or more in prison under colonial-era legislation. The LGBTIQ+ community also has few legal protections. In 2019, President Edgar Lungu said he wouldn’t agree to equal rights for gay people because these went against the nation’s Christian and cultural values.

Below is Anold’s voice note sent to MambaOnline, shared with his permission.

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