The alleged attackers of a trans woman in Botswana blamed the recent court ruling to decriminalize homosexuality as their motivation for assaulting her.
Three men allegedly assaulted Thalepo Matshameko at a chicken restaurant in the capital, Gaborone.
‘Stop pretending to be a woman and be a real man,’ the attackers said during the assault.
Police released the men without charge, who later approached Matshameko to apologize for the assault. Seeing the men again without police protection has further traumatized the 26-year-old.
Matshameko has faced violence because of her gender identity in the past. Last year, attackers assaulted her at a night club in Gaborone.
She has a high profile in Botswana and regularly appears in news media there talking about her trans identity.
Leading LGBTI advocacy group Legabibo denounced the attack.
‘We are heartbroken to learn of this brutal attack on Thalepo Matshameko because she is living [as] her true self,’ the group said in a statement.
‘This is not just an attack on Thalepo alone, it is an attack on members of the LGBTI community, the violence intended to undermine our freedom and rights, an attack on women’s freedom of movement and choice.’
But celebrations were short-lived after the Botswanan government lodged an appeal to the court’s ruling.
LGBTI advocates described their disappointment at the government’s actions.
‘My heart was saddened by that, I felt mortified,’ openly gay musician, Mostwafere Sithole told VOA Zimbabwe.
‘We were moving forward; we were making progress, but now it is like we are two steps back.’