LGBTIQ+ murders: Victims Dr Obisike Donald Ibe, Pinky Shongwe, and Sheila Adhiambo Lumumba
African activists have highlighted three recent LGBTIQ+ murders and called on the authorities to act to stem the hate-fueled killing of LGBTIQ+ individuals across the continent.
Organisations including Pan Africa ILGA, Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International have condemned not only the murders but laws and attitudes that enable these attacks.
- In December last year Dr Obisike Donald Ibe, 37, was macheted to death in Abuja, Nigeria. The three perpetrators tied up and murdered the victim, stole his vehicle, cell phone, cash and ATM card and withdrew almost US$5,000 from his account. According to local reports, the main suspect told police that he killed Ibe because the doctor wanted to have sex with him and asked for a massage.
- In March, Pinky Shongwe, a 32-year-old lesbian woman, was stabbed to death just outside of Durban, South Africa, reportedly because she rejected a man’s romantic advances. It’s alleged that when she told the man that she dated women, he stabbed her to death in a rage. A suspect was arrested and the case has been postponed to 12 May.
- Most recently, the naked body of 25-year-old Kenyan non-binary lesbian Sheila Adhiambo Lumumba was found in their bedroom in Nairobi on 17 April. A postmortem report found that Lumumba was sexually assaulted, hit on the head with a blunt object, and stabbed in the chest, face, neck, and eyes. Human Rights Watch reports that the police have yet to properly investigate the murder and that the victim’s family members have been forced to try to solve the killing themselves.
Human Rights Watch LGBT Rights Program Researcher Erin Kilbride said that “Police should immediately conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into Lumumba’s murder, and Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the National Police Service Commission should release statements condemning the attack.”
Yvonne Wamari, Africa Program Officer for OutRight Action International, believes that the “failure to effectively respond to homophobic violence sends the message that violence against LGBTIQ individuals can be carried out with impunity.”
Nate Brown, the Executive Director of Pan Africa ILGA (PAI), noted that these recent murders reflect a larger widespread crisis.
“LGBTIQ+ persons deserve to thrive without fear of being persecuted. It bears mentioning that unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of attacks, violence and murders against LGBTIQ+ persons across the continent,” said Brown.
In South Africa alone, 2021 saw the murder of at least 24 LGBTIQ+ individuals.
PAI is in the process of developing a crisis reporting centre that will be documenting violations against the LGBTIQ+ community in Africa to advocate for increased protection and respect of the community.
Barbra Wangare, PAI Board Co-Chair, urged governments “to protect activists and the greater LGBTIQ+ community and to call a halt to the impunity that links this chain of vicious murders.”
Wangare added: “LGBTIQ+ lives matter and should be protected at all costs just like the rest of our African citizens.”