There is growing concern over the continued official harassment of LGBT activists in Uganda.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has reported that Ugandan police have again arrested high profile members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
According to Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), two male-to-female transgender individuals – Georgina (aka) Oundo George and Brenda (aka Kiiza) – were arrested at the home of Georgina on Wednesday September 10.
Georgina and Brenda were held at Nabweru Police Post for a week without access to lawyers or to bail and they were never brought before a judge. Article 23 of the Ugandan Constitution requires that an arrested person must appear before a judge within 48 hours of arrest.
Brenda and Georgina reported being beaten, kicked and hit with batons around the legs and ankles during their detention as interrogators demanded that they provide information about the names and addresses of other LGBT activists.
Brenda and Georgina were finally released on September 17, but have been required to report regularly to the police station. They have been accused of “spreading homosexuality,” although no such crime exists under Ugandan law.
At the end of July, Afrol News reported that Usaam Auf Mukwaya, a leading gay rights activist in Uganda, was arrested and tortured by police in Kampala.
Mukwaya is one the three Ugandan activists arrested in June while protesting against the Ugandan government’s stance on homosexuality at an international HIV/AIDS conference in the country. Charges against the three were eventually dropped.
The IGLHRC said that the latest move “appears to be an all-out effort to silence the sexual rights movement in Uganda.”
The organisation has called on its members to send appeals to the Ugandan authorities as quickly as possible to demand an end to the harassment of Oundo George and Kiiza and to end illegal arrests and detention of LGBT individuals and human rights defenders.
IGLHRC also said that the government must repeal Section 145 of the Penal Code Act of 1950, which ostensibly criminalises homosexual acts. According to the law, “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is punishable by up to life imprisonment in Uganda.