Innocent Uwimana is a gay man from Rwanda who fled to the UK twenty years ago. He told us and Metro his story. This is a summary, but you can read the full article here. 


Innocent came to the UK as a 16-year-old to escape rampant homophobia in Rwanda. He is appalled that the government plans to send LGBTQI+ people who come to the UK seeking safety, to Rwanda, a country which does not protect the rights of LGBTQI+ people. 

Innocent was physically abused by classmates. He was regularly violently attacked. He tried to change and fit in, yet the bullying only got worse. He turned to a local priest for guidance but was told he was going to “burn in hell” because of his sexuality. 

“Having experienced the discrimination faced by LGBTQ+ people – or those perceived to be sexual minorities in Rwanda – I am shocked that the UK would deport people from our community there.” 

He knew he had to leave Rwanda to live safely as a gay man. After losing much of his family in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Innocent decided to come to the UK.  

Whilst Rwanda has made great strides since the war, LGBTQI+ people are not protected. Illegal arrests, false charges, and detention of LGBTQI+ people are common in Rwanda. LGBTQI+ people who ‘come out’ face harassment in places of work, and discrimination in the job and housing markets. They are significantly more likely to be homeless and unemployed. Fearing rejection from their family and wider society, many marry someone of the opposite sex to keep themselves safe.  

Once he came to the UK, Innocent learned to accept himself as a gay man, and now leads a “happy, normal life”. Innocent experienced numerous violent, homophobic attacks as a teenager in Rwanda, and he says the situation is no better for LGBTQI+ Rwandans today. The country is not safe for LGBTQI+ people, and Innocent urges all human rights defenders to oppose the government’s plan.