Prominent Uganda LGBTQ activist injured in knife attack

Ugandan LGBTQ activist Steven Kabuye receives treatment at a hospital after he was attacked by unknown people, in Kitende on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, January 3, 2024. [Reuters]

A prominent Ugandan LGBTQ activist was stabbed on his way to work on Wednesday by unknown assailants on a motorbike, police and a rights campaigner said.

Steven Kabuye, 25, suffered knife wounds and was left for dead in the assault on the outskirts of the capital Kampala before being found by local residents, police said.

Human rights defenders have been warning about the risk of attacks on members of the LGBTQ community after Uganda last year adopted what is considered one of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.

Kabuye told detectives investigating the incident that he had been getting death threats, according to a statement issued by police spokesman Patrick Onyango.

"According to Mr. Kabuye, two unidentified individuals on a motorcycle, wearing helmets, approached him. The passenger jumped off and attacked him, specifically targeting his neck with a knife," Onyango said.

"Kabuye managed to shield his neck with his right arm, resulting in a stab wound to his hand. Despite attempting to flee, the assailants chased and stabbed him in the stomach, and left him for dead," he said, adding that local residents found him and took him to a medical clinic.

Richard Lusimbo, the head of community action group Uganda Key Populations Consortium, told AFP that Kabuye was in "critical condition,” but Onyango said he was out of danger.

"All our efforts at the moment [are to ensure] that he gets the medical attention he deserves and also the perpetrators of this heinous act are held responsible," said Lusimbo.

Kabuye, who works with the Colored Voices Media Foundation that campaigns for LGBTQ youth, told investigators who visited his hospital bedside that he had been receiving death threats since March 2023.

He had returned to Uganda in December for Christmas after traveling abroad in June.

In May last year, Uganda adopted anti-gay legislation that contains provisions making "aggravated homosexuality" a potentially capital offence and penalties for consensual same-sex relations of up to life in prison.

"Having laws like the Anti-Homosexuality Act puts lives of the LGBTQ community at risk and empowers hatred," Lusimbo said.

 The legislation triggered outrage among rights advocates and Western powers, and it is currently being challenged in Uganda's constitutional court.

President Yoweri Museveni's government has struck a defiant tone, with officials accusing the West of trying to pressure Africa into accepting homosexuality.

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