Uganda mob seeks to oust gays; police arrest trans woman

8 May

Ugandan police this week arrested a transgender woman who was threatened by an anti-gay mob that demanded the removal of LGBT people from their neighborhood. As of today, the trans woman, named Reagan, has been held by police for four days on homosexuality-related charges.

This is her story, as told by Sandra Ntebi, chair of the national security committee of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).  The tale begins with another transgender woman, Brenda, who is a friend of Reagan:

A mob attacks

Last year Brenda was attacked by a mob, arrested, paraded by police in front of the media, and later released on bail. She then returned from Kampala to her home in Entebbe, about 50 kilometers away on the shores of Lake Victoria. At her home, members of Uganda’s “ex-gay movement” kept visiting her and pressuring her to join them.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (Photo courtesy of Rafto Foundation)

Feeling insecure, Brenda contacted SMUG’s national LGBTI security team, who advised her to leave home for a while. She did so, staying with a friend. For a while, things were fine, but on April 20 Brenda was again attacked by unknown people, who beat her up and knocked her unconscious.  When she awoke, she was in a hospital seriously injured. SMUG paid the hospital bills and, when she was released from the hospital, housed her in a hotel since other locations seemed unsafe. Sandra found her a secure hotel near Sandra’s home, where Brenda’s situation could be supervised.

Reagan comes to help

Reagan stayed there with Brenda, who was still weak and needed help. The security committee raised money and arranged to rent a house for Brenda, which would be less expensive than the hotel. But at that point, the committee learned that Brenda had left the hotel already and only Reagan remained there.

Sandra advised Reagan to go back home and gave her money to get there. But on May 4, Sandra learned that the police had arrested her.

Another mob arrives

Sandra visited her in her cell and asked police why she had been arrested and who had filed a complaint against her. Police told Sandra to sit and wait for an answer.  After a few minutes a group of motorcyclists arrived, shouting that they wouldn’t allow homosexuals to stay in that neighborhood and offering to testify against homosexuals in court.

The mob turned against Sandra, saying that she should be arrested on charges of homosexuality and promotion of homosexuality. Sandra contacted Frank Mugisha, executive director of SMUG, who arranged for a lawyer for Sandra.

The lawyer arrived at the police station and advised Sandra to leave so the mob would not endanger her.

Four days in jail and counting

HRAPF logo

As of today, Reagan has been in jail for four days on charges of homosexuality. The charges are based on complaints from anti-gay concerned citizens with no evidence to back them up, Sandra says.

As for Brenda, the security committee has not heard from her.

Reagan is represented by a lawyer from the advocacy group Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum — Uganda (HRAPF), who is seeking her release on bail. 


76crimes blog:

Uganda mob seeks to oust gays; police arrest trans woman


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