DRC queer rights activist forced to go into hiding.

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05/17/2022

Crammed into a boat with more than 100 people, Cherie* prayed nobody would recognise her. “I wore a hat and a balaclava,” the transgender woman, 33, says of her attempts to remain under the radar. A few hours earlier, shortly before midnight, she had fled her home in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after the police tried forcing her front door in the hope of arresting her. After the six-hour boat ride to a neighbouring province, Cherie, a founding member and head of the non-profit queer rights organisation Rainbow Sunrise Mapambazuko, made her way to where she is now living in hiding. “It all started with threatening messages and insults from the youth in our neighbourhood,” she said. “I could not walk in the streets of our neighbourhood because the community did not want to see me. My presence bothered them. “They accused me of inciting the youth of our neighbourhood to become homosexuals and that I promote homosexuality. They insulted me by saying, ‘You, pede [faggot], we will kill you. We will burn you alive. You bewitch our neighbourhood youth to become homosexual. You are a curse. You bring bad luck. We will burn your house.’”

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