On Wednesday, January 3, 2024, Steven Kabuye, a prominent 25-year-old LGBTQ activist in Uganda, fell victim to a vicious attack as he made his way to work. The assailants, riding on a motorbike, left him with knife wounds on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital city. Found by local residents in critical condition, Kabuye’s assault has raised alarms among human rights defenders, who had previously warned about the heightened risk of attacks following Uganda’s adoption of stringent anti-gay laws.
Kabuye, associated with the Coloured Voices Media Foundation advocating for LGBTQ youth, recounted the harrowing incident to detectives investigating the case. According to police spokesman Patrick Onyango, Kabuye stated that two helmeted individuals on a motorcycle approached him, and the passenger, after dismounting, targeted his neck with a knife. In a courageous attempt to shield himself, Kabuye sustained a stab wound to his hand. Despite trying to escape, the assailants pursued him, stabbing him in the stomach before leaving him for dead. Fortunately, local residents discovered him and rushed him to a medical clinic.
As news of the attack spread, Richard Lusimbo, head of the Uganda Key Populations Consortium, expressed grave concern about Kabuye’s condition, describing him as being in “critical condition.” However, Onyango provided a more optimistic outlook, stating that Kabuye was now out of immediate danger. Lusimbo emphasized ongoing efforts to ensure Kabuye receives the necessary medical attention while advocating for accountability against the perpetrators of this heinous act.
During the investigators’ visit to Kabuye’s hospital bedside, he revealed a disturbing aspect of the incident – he had been receiving death threats since March 2023. This revelation sheds light on the dangerous climate faced by LGBTQ individuals in Uganda, particularly after the country enacted stringent anti-gay legislation in May of the previous year.
The controversial legislation includes provisions designating “aggravated homosexuality” as a potentially capital offense and imposes life imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations. Critics argue that such laws not only endanger the lives of the LGBTQ community but also foster hatred. Richard Lusimbo condemned the legislation, stating, “Having laws like the Anti-Homosexuality Act puts lives of the LGBTQ community at risk and empowers hatred.”
The anti-gay legislation, adopted last year, triggered widespread outrage among rights advocates and Western powers. Currently facing legal challenges, the legislation is under scrutiny in Uganda’s constitutional court. President Yoweri Museveni’s government remains defiant, accusing the West of attempting to impose acceptance of homosexuality on Africa.