With the recent revelation that the government is planning to re-introduce the anti-homosexuality bill, attacks against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer persons in Uganda have escalated in both number and gravity. In the past week, there have been reports of attacks against LBGT+ identifying persons from different parts of the country. Agnes (not real name) a lesbian, was assaulted by a doctor at Mukwaya General hospital in Nsambya on Saturday.
Shortly after news of her attack broke, a gay refugee from Rwanda was attacked while trying to access services at a refugee care NGO office. Another attack on a community member was reported in Yumbe district and the latest information reveals a community attack on the Let’s Walk Uganda safe house in Kyengera which was housing a number of LGBT+ persons who for one reason or the other, lacked residence. The angry crowd threw stones at the house and threatened to burn it down; the residents were saved by the arrival of police who dispersed the crowds and took 16 of the house members into custody.
We spoke to Agnes, who is still hospitalized, about the incident that led to her hospitalization and below are the excerpts.
My name is Agnes, a member of FEM-Alliance. All this happened last Saturday. My partner and I have a mutual friend who once shared with me that the hospital in which she works (owned by our friend’s father), has affordable spects going for 150,000 Ugx. On Saturday morning, I informed my partner that I had to go and pick the glasses before I could head on to work.
I made my way to Mukwaya General Hospital in Nsambya; I got to the reception and informed my friend, Jet, about my arrival. (Please note that I had met Jet through my partner). Jet directed me to her home which is right behind the hospital but when I arrived, she was in the shower. I waited for her but because she was taking long, I decided to go back to the reception where she would eventually find me.
On my way back, I heard man's voice calling out, "Hallo! Hallo!" I thought this person was talking on phone so I didn't heed to the calling. When I got to the hospital parking lot, I saw the security guard coming towards me. He held me and said that the boss, Mr Mukwaya had instructed him to take me back inside the hospital. He refused to divulge any details about why the boss wanted to see me.
When we got to the boss, I greeted him politely but got no response. They took me away from the front of the hospital led me through a corridor. When we reached a more secluded place, the boss called the nurses and the cooks. He asked them if I had slept over to which they said they were not sure. He called his daughter, Jet and asked her if she knew me and she said yes. He asked her about the nature of our relationship and she explained that we were friends. I went on to explain that I was at the hospital to buy spects.
He looked at me, with disgust in in his eyes and said, "I am not going to beat you because you came here to get a service or because you are are trespassing. I am going to teach you a lesson because you are a homosexual.”
The doctor is aware of his daughter’s sexuality and that is how he arrived at the conclusion that I must be a lesbian too. He sent someone for a metal bar but this person. He gave the said metal to the askari to beat me but he refused. The doctor then took the metal and told me to lie down. Before I could even get to the ground, he started hitting me. I started shouting. My friend just stood by and looked on.
The doctor beat me wherever he pleased; from my legs to my back, arms and head. The nurses are the ones who intervened and asked him to stop. As soon as he got distracted talking to the nurses, I got up and ran. I was so disoriented that the askari came running after me and showed me the way out. By then, it was around 8:30am approaching 9:00am.
When I got out, I called my partner as well as someone from Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and informed them about what had transpired.
I got there at around 9:30am. On arrival, I found her outside the gate. She was very dirty as if she had been dragged across a dusty floor. Her phone was also shattered. Her arms and eyes were swollen. I asked her what had happened, she told me that she had been beaten by a man who alleged that she is a ‘homo’.
Thankfully, a police officer that happened to be passing by approached us and asked what was wrong since she couldn't stop crying. I just told him that she had been beaten up. He advised us to report the assault to the neighbouring police station.
After reporting at the police station, we went to MayFair Clinic in Najjanankumbi where a police surgeon did a full body check. They found that her head, knees, wrists and back had been hit. We were told to take those findings back to the police station where we had made the report.
We made our way to Access Health Services where I work and one of the doctors gave her first aid. We later went for an x-ray and scan in Nsambya. There was a small crack found in her arm but no fracture. However, the joint of the wrist was dislocated. We did a CT scan on Sunday evening with the assistance of Jay Mulucha. We were told the brain was fine and there was no internal bleeding although the tissue around the skull was bruised.
She now has some signs of PTSD. She can barely sleep at night, has so much paranoia and always on edge.
HRAPF is currently following up the case and is working closely with the Police to bring the perpetrator to book. Agnes’ partner has also been receiving intimidating phone calls, threatening to get the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni involved in the case. (Attached is an audio to this effect).