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Non-binary Ugandan asylum seeker viciously attacked by gang of thugs for simply wearing a dress

Josh Milton March 17, 2020
Stephen Sebuuma, a trans non-binary refugee in the Kakuma refugee camp, was battered by a group of 10 transphobes with sticks and stones. (Stephen Sebuuma)

Stephen Sebuuma, a trans non-binary refugee in the Kakuma refugee camp, was battered by a group of 10 transphobes with sticks and stones. (Stephen Sebuuma)

Wearing a bright blue dress, Stephen Sebuuma, a non-binary asylum seeker, set out on a cool summer evening to grab groceries for their son at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.

Walking down the dusty track on Thursday, they were stopped by 10 Sudanese refugees. Staring them down, armed with stones and sticks.

They then hurled transphobic insults at them before brutally beating them like a “punching bag”; their sixth attack this year alone, they told PinkNews.

Since the ordeal, which left their face swollen and bloodied, Sebuuma was forced to lock themselves inside their home for three days.

They told PinkNews: “If it wasn’t for my son, I would have killed myself.

“I am tired of not having the hope that this will end, am tired of being this outcast, this laughing stock, this shame to my boy.

“This punching bag that all choose to practice with how hard they can hit.”

It’s the latest incident in a spectre of violence against queer Ugandans, one where the landlocked country’s vicious anti-LGBT+ laws have forced countless people to seek asylum in Kenya.

Non-binary refugee: ‘I feel so hated that am starting to hate my self day by day.’

Kakuma, a small town in northwestern Kenya, is the site of one of the largest and most bustling refugee camps in the country.

While people seek safety there each year, huddling into plastic shelters and thatched-roof huts, it is a “dungeon” to its LGBT+ refugees, one refugee said.

The camp is co-managed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Kenyan government and the Kenyan Department of Refugee Affairs.

Due to the dizzying rates of violence inflicted upon them by fellow refugees, many queer asylum seekers live together in the camp.

But after being relocated earlier this year by UNHCR authorities, the LGBT+ refugees are now “at war” with Sudanese refugees who “have vowed to harm all LGBTI refugees in Kakuma”, the refugee said.

Sebuuma, the latest LGBT+ refugee to fall victim to the attacks, suffered swelling on their face and noticeably their lips.

For Stephen Sebuuma, their son is their lifeline. Suffering swelling and bruises after the attack, Sebumma is at breaking point. (Stephen Sebuuma)
For Stephen Sebuuma, their son is their lifeline. Suffering swelling and bruises after the attack, Sebuuma is at breaking point. (Stephen Sebuuma)

In harrowing footage shared to PinkNews, Sebuuma, startled by shock, stares lifelessly as a fellow refugee explains what happened at around 7:20pm.

“I have limited my presence in this neighbourhood as much as possible,” they explained.

“I have reached the climax of my patience to the abuses and the violence that this camp has for me. I have become tired and I believe that my neighbours have also become tired of me.

“I have already been beaten enough I have had verbal confrontations with them they have threatened all they can all to force me away from there proximity.

“If it wasn’t for my son I would have killed my self yesterday.”

I am tired of not having the hope that this will end, am tired of being this outcast, this laughing stock, this shame to my boy. This punching bag that all choose to practice with how hard they can hit

“I feel so hated that I am starting to hate my self day by day.”

Embattled refugee rattled by ongoing onslaught of hate. 

Sebuuma’s recent biography has been one of trauma.

Thursday’s incident eerily echoed an attack in January which saw them stabbed in the head and left bleeding profusely.

The details were near mirror reflections.

Again, Sebuuma, out to grab groceries at around 7pm on a warm summer’s evening, saw their path thronged by a gaggle of Sudanese refugees who proceeded to launch into a volley of attacks.

Stephen Sebuuma suffered cuts to their head and arm as a result of the attack. (Facebook)
Stephen Sebuuma suffered cuts to their head and arm as a result of the attack. (Facebook)

Camp clinicians, on a threadbare budget, were only able to provide Sebuuma paracetamol, they claimed, to treat their wounds.

Why are queer Ugandans fleeing to Kenya?

Often rejected by their families, queer Ugandans are forced to flee and seek refuge in neighbouring Kenya.

Uganda, an east African country snarled by severe anti-LGBT legislation, has become a battleground for queer rights.

In the last few years, government officials have ramped up ruthless attacks on the community.

An alleged plan to introduce the death penalty on gay sex struck terror in Ugandan activists last year, who have said anti-LGBT violence has rocketed since.

LGBT+ refugees from South Sudan, Uganda and DR Congo walking to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Kenya to demand protection (YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty)

Last year alone, queer Ugandans have been bludgeoned with machetes, had community centres mobbed only for LGBT+ staff to be arrested, a doctor crack the skull of a lesbian and a gay-friendly club raided leading to 127 LGBT+ people being arrested by army and police officers.

Embattled queer folk have fled to Kenya, but last year the country’s courts called to continue criminalising gay sex.

More: Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya, non-binary, refugee, transphobia, Uganda

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