A young LGBTQI Ugandan has been brutally attacked and murdered in Gombe, Uganda.
According to sources in Kampala Fahad Ssemugoma, 22, known as Legit’ Ferhd Kawere, described by some as gay and as transgender fell victim to violent mob violence at the hands of Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi) riders.
There are many rumors spreading on social media where people not even close to the victim and nowhere near the scene or investigation are asserting their ideas of mode and motive for the untimely death of this young activist who belonged to “Happy Family Youth Uganda,” a group now devastated and fearful after the untimely passing of their member.
Rumors, often spread to fit agendas and narratives, are not helpful to the investigation, and nor to those in mourning and especially not to the memory of Fahad.
What we do know is that an investigation is ensuing. However we are also aware that when it comes to LGBTQI people the Ugandan police most often are sluggish and careless and do not care to pursue an authentic investigation. Police are often culprits and accessories in crimes and rights violations themselves, due to the criminalization of gay people in Uganda, which has given license to state and non-state actors to take the law into their own hands, extort, blackmail, assault, rape and torture. So many of us in the human rights trenches doubt that Fahad will receive true justice.
Mob violence is not uncommon in Uganda and other African countries where LGBTQi people, their sexuality and gender identity is criminalized.
It is also not uncommon to blame the victim if they are LGBTQI for their fate, seeking to insert an underlying motive, such as money owed or provocation or self defense, where Government seeks to justify the death, maintaining the demonization and continued ostracization of gays, lesbians and transgender people. This is precisely what occurred in the case of famed Ugandan gay activist and human rights defender, David Kato, who was brutally murdered in 2011.
What we should all note is that no matter motive and no matter the outcome of this investigation there can never be justification for such brutal a murder and the loss of any life, especially one so young. The ongoing hateful anti-gay rhetoric and actions by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga and Minister of Ethics and Integrity Hon. Simon Lokodo, has not helped this climate of fear with license to kill! No matter the reason behind this murder, merely because he identified as LGBTQI, these Politicians have blood on their hands! Criminalization of sexuality must end. Its the backdrop for this violence.
The burial is today in Kiboga.
May comrade Fahad Ssemugoma, Legit’ Ferhd Kawere, find justice and Rest in Peace. May their memory be a blessing. And may family, friends, and the Ugandan LGBTQI community be comforted and find healing. Aluta Continua!
By MELANIE NATHAN