A Day in Kampala: a trans-woman is viciously assaulted in a hate crime, the police won’t readily help, and there’s little hope for justice. This is just one story of just one day of paying the price of being LGBTI in Uganda.
Clare drives honking and weaving – an expert – through the choking Kampala traffic. Across her dashboard seats a rainbow sticker and flag and the flags of both Uganda and the United States. Ruth hung on the passenger side; Beyonce, Mich and I crammed into the back.
After some time we reached the hospital the diplomat directed Beyonce to. She – Beyonce – had spoken to the official earlier that day to make the necessary arrangements. When we pulled into the driveway, there were three representatives of a foreign government waiting in an SUV.
We got out and walked over to meet Beyonce’s contact. I introduced myself as a journalist from the US. The official immediately stopped and turned to look at me. She was clearly displeased, beyond that really, she looked worried. Beyonce hadn’t told her I would be along, but Beyonce wasn’t worried about me, she was just looking to get Mich help.
Visibly upset, pacing, the official told me my being there could put Mich and Beyonce in jeopardy. She was angry, I apologized but for what I wasn’t entirely sure. In fact, she continued, my being there as a member of the press could put the “entire network and relationship with the hospital in jeopardy.”
The relationship they had groomed with the facility was a long time in the making. This clandestine series of phone calls, pick ups, drop offs and assists carefully calculated by another government that cannot talk of their involvement in any of this openly. I consented – promised the diplomat repeatedly – to stay outside. I had to swear not mention the hospital, doctor or foreign agency involved. This is how a transsexual who is brutally assaulted in a hate crime gets medical attention in Uganda if they are lucky enough to.
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