22 Jul

Update from a Conductor – and an Appeal

Message from one of the Friends New Underground Railroad conductors:

“Dear —-, hope you are fine. I always take a break from the quaker operations to look after [my family] but the demands and ever non stop requests from verified queers who wana leave Uganda can’t allow me to rest well enough. This afternoon I went to meet —- and I suggested to him that at least he also considers to take some more 10 queers mainly youths chased from families, students denied by their families and institutions, young working youths chased from work places and job, once some body is outted he or she is a target. Am not telling u to influence —- to also take mine clients but rather if resources permit, please help. Every time I loose a client to this gruesome attacks I feel though am not doing my self appointed job. Its not that I assume u have a lot of money to make it possible every day but rather a humble request.”

This conductor has 27 clients waiting to escape Uganda. It will cost $55 each = $1,485.00 plus the wire transfer fee. And the other conductors also have people waiting to escape.
Please donate! And please share this appeal with others! Thank you.

17 Jul

Friends New Underground Railroad co-manager Talcott Broadhead interviewed on KUOW, 94.9 FM today!

Talcott Broadhead

Talcott Broadhead, Friends New Underground Railroad co-manager (social worker, author, illustrator, publisher, parent, professor and activist) is interviewed by Ross Reynolds on KUOW, 94.9 FM – Seattle News & Information – NPR Radio – airing today, Thursday, July 17, 2014  from noon – 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time

Ross Reynolds and Marcie Sillman on The Record, 7/17:
Major David Tucker on returning from the warzone, and Olympia Quakers organize an “underground railroad” for gay people in Uganda.

Talcott Broadhead says: “Only lgbtq Ugandans know what lgbtq Ugandans need. We are honored to support their needs through this crisis.”

Listen live: http://kuow.org/programs/record

Most show segments are available online and as podcasts by 5 p.m. the day that they air.

Talcott Broadhead:
email: talcottbroadhead@friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org
website: http://www.talcottbroadheadmsw.com

14 Jul

An outside confirmation of the work we support in Uganda

One of the Ugandan conductors we work with assisted 22 seminary students to get out of  Uganda, which we mentioned in “Overview and Update – June 7, 2014” on our blog .

That work was confirmed by an outside (press) source in a June 26, 2014 Dutch article, “RK-Bisschop Oeganda geeft namen homoseksuelen aan politie”
which is posted online here: http://kerknieuws.nl/mobiel/artikel.php?i=27374

Thanks to a Google Translation, the sentence that confirms our work is:
“These students are, according to sources in Uganda now fled to Kenya where they are still hiding.”

And the last we heard from one of the people we work with is that eighteen of the seminarians are now in Europe.

11 Jul

BuzzFeed article: American Quakers Have Created An “Underground Railroad” in Uganda

Thank you to reporter J. Lester Feder who did a lot of research about the Friends New Underground Railroad project for this article which came out today:

American Quakers Have Created An “Underground Railroad” in Uganda

But human rights activists in the region aren’t cheering

Posted on July 10, 2014, at 4:35 p.m. – J. Lester Feder – BuzzFeed Staff

10 Jul

We Have An Emergency Situation in Uganda – Please Donate!

This is a message from one of the Friends New Underground Railroad ‘conductors’ in Uganda:

“… having endless pressure of a group of some people understand unbearable situation. They have been thrown out of the [place] where they have been camping for weeks, all their possessions. The [place] owner has even threatened to call on the police for them. These are people who are now camping in a bush in [town name]. If the villagers finds out that these are gays they will be lynched. … This is the group of 25 (formerly 26) – one of whom was the one burned to death.”

Please donate! We need 25 x $55 = $1,375.00 plus the PayPal fees in order to assist in transporting these 25 people to safety outside of Uganda.  

Donate through PayPal here:


If you are going to send a check, the information needed to do that is here:
Please use the contact form on that page to let us know how much you are sending so we can plan.

Thank you!

Please share this with others!

29 Jun

Emergency medical funds needed!

One of the FNUR “conductors” was assaulted the other day in a severe bashing based on his perceived sexual orientation and because he was in the process of doing this work he has undertaken to assist other LGBTQ people out of Uganda. This is such dangerous work. This is the second time one of the “conductors” has been assaulted like this. We are doing what we can to support them, and yes, we have vetted this and it is legitimate.

He needs to be moved to safety so he can receive medical treatment, and we are asking for people to donate to assist us in doing this.

To do this we need to raise  $924.00.  Please help with a donation by clicking here:
and please share this with others who may also do so.

Thank you!
Gabi Clayton
Co-Clerk, Peace and Social Justice Committee, Olympia Friends Meeting; Manager, Friends New Underground Railroad

25 Jun

June 24, 2014 report: The work continues.

We have received many reports as those who have escaped via the Railroad are beginning to make their way to other countries – mostly in Europe. We hope to have more detailed reports, and perhaps even some interviews, to share soon.

But we’ve had a rough week. In two different incidents in two different locations, we’ve had 58 LGBT people evicted from their “safe” houses and running for their lives. This follows on the heels of suicides by two people who lost hope of getting out, and also with the names of LGBT folks who are being hunted read out over the radio.

Due to some extraordinary acts of heroism on the part of several of our conductors, the 58 are now in two separate locations (32 and 26 people respectively) and temporarily out of harm’s way.

Except they are hungry! Money for food is scarce and when we spend money on food there is less money to bring them out of Uganda. We don’t want to have to spend money on food – we want them out of harm’s way! But sometimes we must give money for food while we raise money for transporting folks because the people in hiding are starving.

It costs us only $55 to get each person out. Then there are services – food, medical, housing, counseling, legal, and visa – available to them once we get them out of Uganda.

The total cost is $3,190. Or, put another way – we’d have them escape in two groups as they are in two different locations – $1,760 for the 32, and $1,430. We pledge (assuming our escape routes continue to function, and thus far we have a 100% success rate), to have each group out within 48 hours.

Please donate! Please tell others and share our website http://friendsnewundergroundrailtoad.org. The more people know about this and donate, the more people we can assist to safety.

Please do what you can…and a little bit more.

08 Jun

Overview and Update – June 7, 2014

Friends New Underground Railroad (www.friendsnewundergroundrailroad.org) was created informally on April 3rd, 2014, when an unnamed individual (now known as Conductor #1) in a rural area of Uganda contacted a small group of Quaker contacts in Olympia, Washington about the need for help to move nine gay men who were being hunted and were in hiding out of the country as quickly as possible.

Escape was achieved for all nine to another African country, and with the help of a support team there that provides housing, medical care, legal support, and visa help, all nine have now been resettled in Sweden.

To date (June 7, 2014), Friends New Underground Railroad (named after the fact that Friends were the backbone of the Underground Railroad prior to the Civil War) has assisted 78 individuals escape, and has 90 people waiting for assistance.

There are currently three “conductors” in three different parts of Uganda. Their identities are kept confidential to protect them in this dangerous work they have been led to do, aiding LGBTQ Ugandan people which puts their own lives at risk.

Of the 78 who have escaped, 43 are men, 26 are women, and nine are transgender.

Of the 90 waiting, 45 are men and 45 are women. Some may be transgender, but we don’t know at this point.

Friends New Underground Railroad does not encourage LGBT individuals to leave Uganda, but only responds to those who seek assistance to leave. We do not engage in any political activity or other human rights endeavors inside Uganda, though we hope all such efforts will be effective in changing the climate in Uganda and elsewhere.

Support – housing, food medical, legal, and visa – are provided by other organizations in the interim African countries. On occasion, Friends New Underground Railroad has assisted with visa support or identification documents. We don’t currently support the purchase of plane tickets.

Friends New Underground Railroad became a project of Olympia Friends Meeting, a 501(c)(3) Quaker religious organization on April 12th. They provide a tax-exempt conduit, a treasurer, and significant outreach support to Friends communities around the world. (Note: there are Quakers in Uganda, and there are more Quakers in western Kenya than in the entire United States.)

In late April, three Catholic universities expelled 109 lesbian women. Of these, 16 from Uganda Martyr’s University were publicly exposed, with the university calling on their parents to denounce their daughters, and turn them over to the police. The 16 immediately went into hiding (which was difficult, as they came from smaller towns.) Their names were read repeatedly over the radio (Impact Radio), and one of the women’s fathers, an Anglican pastor, went on the radio publicly calling for his community to find his daughter, and have her thrown in prison. The radio station publicly called for the imprisonment, sterilization and castration of all gay/lesbian people in Uganda.

The very next morning, Friends New Underground Railroad arranged for the daughter – named Rachael – to flee the country, with two companions. Of the 16, three escaped without our assistance, we assisted 12 of them to escape. One disappeared – it is believed she was picked up by the police. The 12 are currently receiving assistance in preparing visa applications.

On April 20th, Easter Sunday, the Bishop of Jinja Diocese – the Rt. Reverend Fr. Charles Wamika – preached a sermon in the Jinja Cathedral. Applauding the new law, he directed Catholic hospitals not to serve LGBT clients, and called for the expulsion of all known and suspected LGBT students from all Catholic schools and college and universities. On that very day, the Dean of Students of Uganda Martyr’s Seminary submitted a final report to the Seminary Disciplinary Council on the 22 seminarians “involved in unnatural sexual activities”. Four days later, the 22 seminarians were kicked out, with the Bishop calling on the parents of the seminarians to denounce them. He also forwarded a copy of the final report to the chief of police, who replied that he was launching an “investigation”.

The seminarians went into hiding, and, after some delay, all 22 were assisted by Friends New Underground Railroad conductors and are now in Nairobi.

In May, Safe Passage Fund became a partner, collaborating with the efforts of the Friends New Underground Railroad. Safe Passage Fund was created to provide travel funds and support to LGBTQ individuals and allies who face immediate threats of arrest, attacks, violence and persecution in countries where harsh laws have fostered a climate of extreme homophobia.

02 Jun

Report in Brief – Where We Are Now

As of yesterday – Sunday 06/01/14 – we have assisted 62 people to get out of Uganda.

This morning we are very happy  to report that all nine men from our original group are now in Sweden!

AND, we have a waiting list of 90 people including 17 hiding in a garage.