LGBTQ+ Power Players: Uche Onwa, Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

In this gripping interview, Uche Onwa describes how his passion for community organizing grew out of his desire for justice. After losing friends to suicide and violent homophobic attacks in his home country of Nigeria, Uche became involved in an HIV education organization. As a result of this activism, Uche himself became a target of violent mob attacks. Finally, after the 2014 Same-Sex Marriage (Prohibition) law was passed by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, Uche was convinced that it was time to leave the country.

Uche arrived in Atlanta, GA, but was immediately detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents, who put him in cuffs and turned him over to ICE despite the fact that he had entered the country legally with a visa. His horrific treatment at the hands of U.S. Immigration led him to reach out to advocacy organizations and members of Congress, including the late John Lewis, all of which were instrumental in securing his release from ICE detention.

Now, as Co-Director and Coordinator of Community Organizing at the Queer Detainee Empowerment Project, Uche helps provide assistance and resources for queer folks from around the world who are fleeing for their safety, just like he had to.

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