Uganda gay activist blames knife attack on a worsening climate of intolerance

January 4, 2024
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KAMPALA, Uganda — A well-known gay rights activist in Uganda who was stabbed by unknown assailants this week attributed the attack to what he described Thursday as a growing intolerance of the LGBTQ community fueled by politicians.

The climate of intolerance is being exacerbated by “politicians who are using the LGBTQ+ community as a scapegoat to move people away from what is really happening in the country,” Steven Kabuye said in an interview from a hospital bed on the outskirts of Kampala.

Two attackers on a motorcycle tried to stab Kabuye in the neck on Wednesday, and when he tried to shield himself the attackers stabbed him in the right arm and stomach, police said. A video posted on the social media platform X shows Kabuye on the ground writhing in pain with a deep wound to his right arm and a knife stuck in his belly.

Kabuye said Thursday that he believes the attackers were trying not just to wound him, but to kill him, and that he fears his enemies might even target him in the hospital. “I don’t know who to trust right know,” he said.

Kabuye is the executive director of the advocacy group Colored Voice Truth to LGBTQ. He had gone into exile in Kenya last March after receiving death threats following an attack on one of the members of the group, organization advocacy officer Hans Senfuma said. Kabuye had returned to Uganda on Dec. 15.

In May, Uganda’s president signed into law anti-gay legislation supported by many in Uganda but widely condemned by rights activists and others abroad.

The version of the legislation signed by President Yoweri Museveni doesn’t criminalize those who identify as LGBTQ — which had been a key concern for some rights campaigners. But the new law still prescribes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” which is defined as sexual relations involving people infected with HIV, minors and other categories of vulnerable people.

Kabuye had posted on X that he was deeply concerned about the consequences of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.

“This law violates basic human rights and sets a dangerous precedent for discrimination and persecution against the LGBTQ+ community. Let us stand together in solidarity and fight against bigotry and hate,” he said.



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