ARRESTS AT FIRST UGANDA BEACH PRIDE
Sun, 5 August 2012Police have raided the first ever Uganda Beach Pride event, which was held on Saturday, and arrested a number of activists.
The authorities stormed the venue where people had gathered after a march, ordered the party to stop and demanded that no one leave the area.
Despite the event being planned in near-secrecy, the police are believed to have been tipped off either by a small group of Christians who were taking part in a baptism nearby or by locals in the area who had gathered to watch the Pride march.
Police alleged that there was a gay marriage taking place at the party and that two gay men were seen kissing. They then declared that the gathering was unlawful and threatened to arrest the entire group.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, director of Freedom and Roam Uganda (FARUG) and coordinator of Pride Uganda, and a small group volunteered to go to the police station to give a statement to avoid everyone being arrested.
Upon arrival at the station, they discovered that another group of Pride participants had been arrested earlier.
According to FARUG, those detained included Nabagesera; Jay Abang, the programs manager of FARUG; Stella Nyanzi, a human rights defender; Sandra Ntebi; Rachael Adams; Lerato, a South African journalist; and visitors from other countries.
The activists have all since been released.
“I feel like our rights have been trampled upon. It is becoming a habit of police to interrupt our gatherings," said Nabagesera in an interview with Jay Abang. "It is as if a section of Ugandans do not deserve certain rights. The laws and bills have not been passed but police are already enforcing them.”
This year, Ugandan police have raided two previous LGBTI rights events. In June, they shut down a workshop attended by activists in Kampala. A number of the participants were arrested but were later released without being charged.
In February, Simon Lokodo, the country's Ethics and Integrity Minister, accompanied police to close down another gay rights workshop in Entebbe hosted by FARUG.
FARUG urged the Ugandan LGBTI community “to remain steadfast and strong and continue with all the remaining activities planned for Pride and [the] film festival. This should not derail us from our objective of Pride”.
The organisation also called for the judicial system to order an injunction against the interruption of activities organised by the LGBTI community in Uganda.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. The country's parliament is currently considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which will further criminalise homosexuality and may introduce the death sentence as a possible penalty.