For assaulted LGBT, Uganda medical care must be anonymous

An anonymous hospital, an anonymous doctor, an anonymous embassy official — all are needed to find medical care for a Ugandan who was assaulted because she is a transgender woman.

Mich two days after she was beaten, on left, and four days afterward, at right. (Photos courtesy of Andy Kopsa)

Mich two days after she was beaten, on left, and four days afterward, at right. (Photos courtesy of Andy Kopsa)

In their article “A Day In Kampala,” journalist Andy Kopsa and human rights activist Clare Byarugaba tell the harrowing story of Mich, beaten recently at Kampala bar by a man who was outraged at her attire and her existence.

The tale begins in Byarugaba’s car, heading “to a hospital we can’t talk about” because treating  a transgender woman is unpopular and therefore risky …

“to see a doctor we can’t mention” for the same reason …

“to treat a person who – still – in Uganda doesn’t exist” officially.

They had been directed to that hospital by a cooperative embassy staffer who needed to remain anonymous and who was worried that the presence of a journalist could put the “entire network and relationship with the hospital in jeopardy.”

Kopsa says, “I had to swear not mention the hospital, doctor or foreign agency involved. This is how a transsexual who is brutally assaulted in a hate crime gets medical attention in Uganda if they are lucky.”

As for the man who beat Mich, attempts to bring him to justice are frustrated by witnesses’ refusal to testify:

No one will speak about the beating when we arrive at the bar.  The security guard tells us he only speaks Rwandese  The group isn’t buying this line from him.

“He doesn’t speak Lugandan? He doesn’t speak English?  He doesn’t even speak Swahili?,” says Beyonce [a friend of Mich and founder of  Transgender Equality Uganda]. “He’s lying.”  Chances are she is right.

The owner of the bar where Mich was beaten says none of the staff on duty that night still works for him.

Clare and Mich outside the bar where Mich was beaten (Photo courtesy of Andy Kapsa)

Clare and Mich outside the bar where Mich was beaten (Photo courtesy of Andy Kapsa)

“This is what it is like to be an LGBT person  in Uganda,” Byarugaba says. ” You cannot underestimate someone pointing at you or taunting you in any situation, you have to read between the lines and realize it as a potential threat to your life, and you have to ensure your safety.”

Yet none of them want to leave Uganda, Kopsa says. “Despite the reincarnation of the infamous Bahati Bill (aka: “Kill the Gays” bill) through proposed amendments to the penal code (Sec. 145) and [Ethics Minister Simon] Lokodo’s crusade against “pro gay” NGOs and breaking up LGBT workshops – they stay because they have to stay.

Byarugaba adds:

This is our fight as Ugandans, this is our country, we can’t run away because of what we go through, ass advocates, we have to help bring about change, a change that was set into motion because an activist one day said ‘enough is enough, we need to break the silence’

For more information, read the full article here: “A Day In Kampala.”

About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" blog. More profile information on Google+. Colin Stewart, un vétéran du journalisme de 40 ans, est éditeur et rédacteur en chef du blog "Erasing 76 Crimes." Plus d'informations de profil sur Google+.
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13 Responses to For assaulted LGBT, Uganda medical care must be anonymous

  1. Pingback: Uganda activists in NY: ‘We are here, we are you, we are proud!’ | 76 CRIMES

  2. Medical care is given anonymously and as much as possible the good activities of medical doctors working with LGBTIQQ in Uganda do not seem to be acknowledged. The reality is there are medical doctors who have worked tirelessly, beyind the call of duty, to treat, follow-up and encourage wellness among LGBTIQQ in Uganda. Many are using their own funds to do this and only wait that one day they will recieve the same funding and resource that is given the litigation and legal activities. Public health is a silent but every day need for LGBTIQQ. The doctors I know have worked with the gay community since 2000. Some were hounded for this, beaten, battered, asked to close their clinics and had to leave Uganda with deeply gushing wounds. This is is the reality in Uganda.

    Like

  3. Peter says:

    This breaks my heart,

    This must stop such cruel people out there. Sending plenty of love.

    Peteroo

    Like

  4. alex k says:

    That Assault is small, i believe they need life imprisonment as my Hon David Bahati voted.Thanks to my Parliament do TO PASS the anti homosexuality bill. We don’t want them in uganda, they are affecting our culture. let them go to the country which embraces it. Long live Uganda, may all homos die.amen. for God and my country.

    Like

    • Dear Alex K.,

      Your words are cruel and hateful, yet you suggest that they are “for God.” Don’t you know that God is a God of Love? God made LGBT people and they are your neighbors. Please follow the commandment that was given to all of us to love them.

      — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog.

      Like

      • Nelson says:

        Dear Colin Stewart

        Stop talking too much and take the LGBT out of the places they are not wanted.

        Like

    • Katerra B. says:

      How can one speak of God and then in the same sentence condemn one to death. You are not God and are no man’s judge. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone…..i will continue to wait! We all fall short from the glor of God but it does not mean we are damned for all eternity God is merciful and it sickens me to hear and read this thwarted, perverted and egotistical mentions of the scripture which was written by man and not HE himself, people stand behind it so much losing the essence, not even for a second acknowledging the fact that the Bible is therein an interpretation of man for lessons “learned” and passed down. It was not written at Jesus’ feet! So please spare us all from this constant attack based on Gods hatred for gays because if we believe that then all of us who have had pre-marital sex, all of us who have had affairs, all of us who have have masturbated, all of us who have committed offences against our neighbors and the list goes on are doomed!

      Like

  5. Katerra B. says:

    How can one speak of God and then in the same sentence condemn one to death. You are not God and are no man’s judge. Let he who is without sin throw the first stone…..i will continue to wait! We all fall short from the glor of God but it does not mean we are damned for all eternity God is merciful and it sickens me to hear and read this thwarted, perverted and egotistical mentions of the scripture which was written by man and not HE himself, people stand behind it so much losing the essence, not even for a second acknowledging the fact that the Bible is therein an interpretation of man for lessons “learned” and passed down. It was not written at Jesus’ feet! So please spare us all from this constant attack based on Gods hatred for gays because if we believe that then all of us who have had pre-marital sex, all of us who have had affairs, all of us who have have masturbated, all of us who have committed offences against our neighbors and the list goes on are doomed!

    Like

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