Police block Uganda Pride for second time this year

Before the raid

Defiant during the raid (Pic: Kuchu Times)

The Ugandan authorities have, as threatened, stopped a second attempt to hold an LGBT Uganda Pride celebration.

On Saturday, armed officers ordered participants, who had driven or been bussed to a beach in Munyonyo, outside of Kampala, to mark the fifth annual event, to disperse.

There were reports on social media of arrests, of a person being beaten by officers and of LGBT people jumping out of moving vehicles to flee the police as buses were escorted from the venue.

“Frustration is boiling over at #ugpride2016. Police are escorting buses on entebbe road with freq. stops. People are afraid & upset,” tweeted journalist Katie G. Nelson.

Activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera tweeted that she had refused to leave the area. “All people in buses n cars who left are arrested since I refused to leave the public place they couldn’t arrest me but towed my car,” she said, noting that neither she nor the other participants had committed a crime.

Police apparently claimed that they had not been informed of the event. LGBT groups, however, insisted that they had notified the authorities as required under the law. An image of the form that had been submitted to the police was posted online.

“…it’s a shame that police officers are abusing people’s rights instead of protecting them…” tweeted KuchuTimes.

During the raid

Police harassment (Pic: FARUG)

This was the second attempt to hold the Pride this year. In August, organisers postponed the event after police brutally raided a Pride pageant, apparently on the orders of the so-called Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo.

Saturday’s police crackdown was not unexpected. Earlier this week, Lokodo warned: “The organisers of the planned Gay Parade on Saturday 24th September 2016 are advised to stop their activities immediately or otherwise they will be arrested and prosecuted in the courts of law.”

He also claimed that, “We are aware that there are inducements, including money, being offered to young people to promote the practice [of homosexuality].”

Colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex allows the courts in Uganda to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life.

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