LGBTI Ugandans denounce latest brutal murder, demand protection

LGBTI activists in Uganda have denounced the latest brutal murder of a member of their community and are demanding that the government guarantee their safety.


From the African Human Rights Media Network


Paralegal Brian Wasswa, a Uganda LGBT community member, is taken to hospital after a brutal attack by unknown people. (Photo courtesy of Kuchu Times)

By Kikonyogo Kivumbi

On Oct. 4, Brian Wasswa, a young LGBT paralegal professional, a respected member of the LGBT community, was found struggling for his life. He had been brutally hacked in the head with a gardening hoe in his home in Jinja, about an hour’s drive from Kampala City.

His attacker(s) left him to bleed to death from 10 deep cuts. Neighbors called for help and he was then rushed to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, where the injuries were discovered to be too extensive for the doctors there to manage. He was transferred to the Mulago Hospital, the national referral hospital in Kampala.

On Saturday 5th October Brian succumbed to a brain hemorrhage caused by the attack and was pronounced dead. Sadly, Brian’s family disowned him when they heard rumors of him being gay. He was laid to rest by friends and some family members at his ancestral home at Katuungulu, Lugazi in Buikwe District on Sunday 06 October 2019.

There have been no arrests in the case.

In a press statement issued October 09 in Kampala, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the umbrella LGBT secretariat, condemned the brutal murder.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of SMUG, said the attack was the latest in a continuing surge of anti-LGBT violence:

Despite the nullification of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in 2014 we have continued to register increased incidents of violence, harassment and social exclusion of the LGBTI community. This is all unfolding when we have less support from our international partners, development partners and national human rights organizations.”

Wasswa’s murder comes a few days after Uganda’s Security Minister, Gen. Elly Tumwine referred to Ugandans LGBT community as “ terrorists” in a televised interview

It is not the first time Ugandan security agencies have labeled local LGBT community members as terrorists in order to incite public anger and fuel mob justice. In 2010, security officials were quoted in local media claiming that the terrorist attacks in Kampala were carried out by homosexual generals.

The Rolling Stone newspaper, which published those claims, has since been sued out of business, but the damage and fueling of violence against the LGBT community continues.

There is a growing build up of efforts by Ugandan leaders to re-table in Parliament a new Anti Homosexuality Bill, after the last one was passed by annulled by the country’s constitutional court on technical grounds.

A vicoiusly sensational headline from 2010 quoted Ugandan intelligence sources who alleged that homosexual Alshabab terrorists plotted Kampala bombing. Such media articles are often used to cause media anger and foment violence against the LGBTI community.

 

Here is Sexual Minority Uganda’s Statement in full:

UGANDA MUST NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE TOWARDS THE LGBTI COMMUNITY

(Kampala, Uganda) 9th October, 2019

Press statement

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the entire Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community stands together to strongly condemn the brutal murder of Brian Wasswa – a young paralegal professional, respected community member, Brian was the focal person Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF) and a resident in Jinja – Uganda.

On Friday 4th October 2019, around 4:00p.m Brian was found suffering, and struggling for his life as a result of being brutally hacked in the head with a gardening tool (hoe) in his own home in Jinja. His attacker(s) left him with ten deep cuts to bleed to death. Neighbors called out for help, he was then rushed to Jinja Regional Referral Hospital where the injuries were too extensive for doctors to manage. He was transferred to the National Referral hospital, Mulago in Kampala.

On Saturday 5th October Brian succumbed to a brain hemorrhage caused by the attack and was pronounced dead. Sadly, Brian’s family disowned him when they heard rumors of him being gay. He was laid to rest by friends and some family members at his ancestral home at Katuungulu, Lugazi in Buikwe District on Sunday 06 October 2019.

This deplorable act of violence fueled by fear, stigma and discrimination is the fourth in the last three months; one to a transwoman in Gomba (Ugandan District ) in August, another to a gay man in Kayunga (Ugandan District) and Kampala respectively and now another gay man in Jinja. Disappointingly, it comes in the wake of legislators in Ugandan parliament calling for the re-introduction of an Anti-Homosexuality Law, and the recent remarks on National Television by the Ugandan Minister for Security General Elly Tumwine claimed that; the LGBTI community and a known political pressure group are so-called “terrorists” with the “Red Movement” on national media.

VIDEO: Minister for Security General Elly Tumwine

The Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Dr. Frank Mugisha said, “When politicians, & members of parliament call for criminalization, like the recent calls to the reintroduction of the “anti-gay” law, they are responsible for the increase in the vulnerability of the LGBT community.”

Speaking to Henry the Team Leader of COSF he said, “We are fearful for our members in Jinja right now. While at the burial we had to leave in a manner that no one could notice because the locals were told the homosexuals are at the burial. We really need police to find Brian’s killer.”

“These are really sad occurrences happening in the community. There is insecurity overall that the country is deteriorating, and as a result, more LGBTI persons are falling victim to hate crimes. We have to speak out loud and clear,” said Mr. Ganafa, the Chairperson of SMUG.

“Although there’s no indication that the Ugandan government is directly involved in these homophobic and transphobic killings, it plays a dangerous role by allowing and encouraging anti-LGBTI culture to prevail.” said Pepe Julian Onziema- SMUG Director of Programs. “Government has the mandate and the responsibility to protect everyone within Uganda’s borders.”

Therefore WE urge the government of Uganda:

  • To vehemently and publicly condemn the killing of Brian Wasswa, and the other LGBT persons, who have fallen victim to violence, persecution and discrimination.
  • To condemn all forms of violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons, community, and their families.
  • To conduct a thorough and expedited investigation into these killings and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice.
  • To diligently investigate and prosecute all persons involved in public incitement of violence towards LGBTI persons and community.
  • To reject any discriminatory legislation that explicitly allows discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

We also call on political leaders, religious leaders, and media – both conventional and non-conventional to stop demonizing the LGBTI community in Uganda since doing so only creates and amplifies a climate of violence.

In conclusion Dr. Mugisha added that; “Despite the nullification of the anti-homosexuality act in 2014 we have continued to register increased incidents of violence, harassment and social exclusion of the LGBTI community. This is all unfolding when we have less support from our international partners, development partners and national human rights organizations.”

Kikonyogo Kivumbi, the author of this article, is the executive director of the Uganda Health and Science Press Association.

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