This transgender woman was stripped naked by five male police officers to check her gender after she used the female toilets – and has now received compensation following her ordeal.
The incident happened at a hotel in Bulawayo, the second-largest city in Zimbabwe, where LGBT campaigner Ricky Nathanson was arrested by local police and detained for 48 hours in 2014. She was also charged with criminal nuisance charges for using the women’s toilet.
The charges were later dropped at the magistrates court, but she then went to the High Court seeking damages for the illegal arrest, illegal detention, malicious prosecution and also for the emotional distress caused.
In the end she was awarded 400,000 ZWD (854 GBP), which is a considerable sum by local standards and welcomed the ruling. She now lives in America where she works as an activist for human rights organisation and took the stand because homosexuality and transgender issues are still seen negatively in Zimbabwe.
In 2010 the country’s then president Robert Mugabe described gays as being “worse than pigs and dogs”.
In a statement afterwards, she said: “This has been a long, emotional roller coaster for me. I have waited almost 5 years for this moment. I am elated.”
She added that it was not only a life changing decision but a great moment for Zimbabwe.
She added that the decision “affirms and recognises the fundamental human rights, freedoms and dignity of all its citizens. My wish is for society to be more tolerant and where LGBT persons are not in constant fear of being targeted”.
She described how she had been forced to undress in front of five now police officers and had then been forced to undergo “invasive and humiliating medical (and) physical examination”.
The judge in the case, Francis Bere, said that the woman had not only been deprived of her freedom but also been “subjected to forced anatomical examination in the most crude and naked manner by adventurous members of the police”.
She added: “As if that was not enough, she was subjected to further invasive examination at two different medical institutions all because of her transgender status, something that she did not invite upon herself.”
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