For years Mohamed’s family tried to make him more like other boys – tougher, more “masculine”. They even sent him to have a female spirit driven out with hallucinogenic drugs. Eventually, writes Layla Mahmood, they decided to kill him. The heat enveloped 20-year-old Mohamed, as he zig-zagged through the alleyways of Hargeisa. It was around noon, during the summer of 2019. The city was asleep for the daily siesta – shops, restaurants and offices were all closed – so it was a perfect time for anyone who needed to move around under the radar. Mohamed was secretly visiting his boyfriend, Ahmed, an act punishable by imprisonment and sometimes death in Somaliland. Hargeisa is the capital of the self-declared state of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia nearly 30 years ago.