In the last couple of weeks, Uganda’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community has had a rude awakening with more than five members being gruesomely attacked. One of the attacked, Diane Bukuraira was beaten up and warned by her assailants to stop dressing like a man while two transmen, Jay Mulucha and Apako Williams were attacked in one of the suburban bars in Kampala.
Within the week, the number of attack cases in the community had risen to over six. These incidents have since sparked questions like why now after a long period of calmness and safety and could transphobia be on the rise in the country?
While it is difficult to pin point why these attacks have all happened within the same time frame, most critics of the community argue that the election fever could be a highly contributing factor. With President Museveni’s recent comments about not seeing the relevance of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, there is a chance the general public viewed these remarks as the President supporting and accepting homosexuality; something that could have triggered the ongoing violence.
The same critics have however also observed that the security consciousness within the LGBTI community had dwindled greatly since the annulment of the AHA. Community members had thrown caution to the wind due to the period of calmness in regards to LGBTI issues and homophobes must now be taking advantage of this laxity.
Organisation heads have since called on all community members to be extra vigilant as well as security mindful to curb the ongoing attacks.
Beyonce Karungi born Benjamin Tushabe is the Executive Director of Transgender Equality Uganda; she says that in the last five years or so, she has undergone a total of about 50 physical and verbal attacks from transphobes.
The clearly shaken radical transwoman is one of the people who got attacked last week and shared the horrifying ordeal that befell her.
I have been threatened with death since last year in October; I normally host transgender women at my place for social gatherings and this sparked curiosity within my neighborhood. Most people were wondering who these ‘boys’ were and people started spreading rumours that I was recruiting people into homosexuality.
On Sunday while talking to a group of guys in my neighbourhood, I was informed that there was a witch hunt for me and my ‘boy-girl’ friends; they wanted to cut off our balls and burn us to death. Unfortunately my phone battery was dead so I rushed to a café where I reported these threats to the relevant people.
Defenders Protection Initiative (DPI) managed to give me two days shelter. They approached the security team to come to my rescue but the latter said it was not in position to help although I still do not understand why.
At this point, I didn’t have where to stay. I went to a friend’s house in Kasanga and as I waited at the gate, a number of guys came and beat me up. The attack lasted about five minutes and fortunately, a friend of mine happened to be in the vicinity and came to my rescue. He scared the goons away and managed to save my bag; I was in shock and tears as I quickly digested what had just happened.
I was then taken to Bunga where I spent the night at another friend’s place. So far I have been supported by friends who have heard about my ordeal and offered assistance in one way or the other. This is not the first attack I have gone through but I strongly believe the people who have been sending me these threatening messages must have followed me and were determined to kill me.
Of all the attacks I have been subjected to, this is the first time I have dealt with death threats and I am very scared for my life; I am currently staying at a safe house where Eastern Horn has placed me for the time being.
Beyonce hopes to go for a holiday where she can recoup and forget the trauma she has gone through. She also hopes to get assistance to move to a safer residence as well as acquire a personal car for safe and easy transport.