This is a remembrance of an ill-fated night; a night of humiliation at the cold hands of law enforcement agents, a night never to be relived, a night of fear and abuse.
My girlfriend and I had an argument a week before that night. She had called me up earlier and insisted we drive out to a secluded place in order to have a private discussion. We drove in separate cars to a public recreational spot. She parked her car, hopped into mine and we got talking. We talked, we argued and as expected settled our rift with a kiss. A deep long kiss that carried us away until we were brought back to earth by loud banging on the door.
The blows were exerted with enough force to jerk the door open because we had failed to lock them. As I looked through the car windows I saw some uniformed and un-uniformed men, one of whom had a rifle in his hands. All I can remember were the torrent of questions that were followed with a blinding slap. Questions inquiring about what we were doing in the car and why we were alone? Why a woman would be kissing another woman? Demanding to know what pleasure we derived from such an act? They demanded also to know if we had heard about the newly passed policy bill making homosexuality a punishable offence without the option of paying fine?
This bill makes same-sex marriage punishable with a 14-year jail term , outlaws homosexual sex and public displays of affection . It involves the community by criminalizing bearing witnesses to and/ or assisting same-sex marriages.
That night my girlfriend was restrained ,by the unarmed police officer, while I was brutally manhandled by the officer with the rifle. They forced us back into my car and ordered us to drive to the small police station situated about 200 meters in the direction of the recreational centre’s main entrance. As I drove I pleaded that the officers to let us off before we reached the station but the three policemen that got into the car with us insisted their boss, who had gone ahead of us, was the only one could set us free.
When we arrived at the police station I parked and we all alighted. My girlfriend was immediately taken and locked up in one of the holding cells- the cell was dark because there was no electricity at the time of our arrival. I was asked to stand beside their boss and give an explanation of what we were busy doing in the car at the time we were apprehended.
As could be expected my explanations fell on deaf ears. I was forced to write a statement. After that, the talk shifted to how much I was willing to part with for our bail and that was accompanied by several threats of incarceration. All they wanted was money! Yet we had wasted so much of our time pleading while they battered regardless of our sex. We were made to pay through our noses before we were released, badly beaten and battered, at around past midnight.
As I write this today, my girlfriend is yet to overcome the trauma from that fateful night and still panics each time we ride in the same car together.
The difficulty you encounter coming out in the open is almost the same as what you go through in the process of accepting your sexuality. It is one thing accepting your sexuality, it is another coming out and it is an entirely different ball game doing so in a community where being a lesbian has been passed into law as being a punishable crime.
I often ask myself why this has to be so?