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Bad Black

Ugandan trans woman fled her country to seek shelter

Bad Black, left, fled her home in Uganda after facing violence and discrimination.  Credit: Owen Sheppard

The threat of police violence had long been a concern for Ugandan trans woman Bad Black, but the passage of her country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act put the HIV/AIDS and sex worker activist at further risk in her community.

In 2012, before the act was passed, Black was arrested by local police but released after neighbours refused to supply incriminating information — a show of loyalty that she ascribes to her work in the community. But the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act all but removed sanctions on homophobic violence, and in March 2014, Black was kidnapped, beaten and extorted by men who claimed to be homosexuals needing her help. When police made an arrest of one suspect, he claimed to be acting under the authority of the Anti-Homosexuality Act. In the weeks that followed, Black received death threats.

Shortly thereafter, Black travelled to South Africa to attend a conference. Afraid to return to Uganda, she overstayed her visitor’s visa. Now, friends from the Toronto group #ENDhatelaws are putting on a fundraiser to raise $1,500 (US); the money will go toward her visa overstay fee, her asylum application and two months of living expenses, which will cover her for the time before she can legally work. 

The #ENDhatelaws fundraiser may be over, but donations are still being accepted to help Black.