16 LGBTQ Ugandans arrested and tortured

In a new crackdown in Uganda, 16 LGBTQ people have been arrested on homosexuality charges and forced to undergo anal exams.

According to civil society groups, the men, described as LGBTQ activists in some reports, were threatened by a mob in Kyengera, a neighbourhood in Kampala, on October 21.

After they called the police for help, they were initially promised “protection” but were instead arrested and subjected to forced anal examinations to collect “proof of homosexuality.” This practice has no scientific or medical basis and has been condemned by international experts as a form of torture.

The men were charged with carnal knowledge against the order of nature under Article 145 of Uganda’s Penal Code, as well as with human trafficking. 

“Based on the medical examination report, it was established that the suspects were involved in sexual acts punishable under the penal code,” Kampala Police spokesman Patrick Onyango told the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Police also stated that the presence of condoms, lubricant, and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in the men’s homes is “evidence” that supports the charge of having gay sex. The group has since been released on bail.

The arrests follow reports that Ethics and Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo planned to introduce a new version of Uganda’s previously annulled Anti-Homosexuality Act in parliament. (The Ugandan government has since said it has no plans to support such a bill.)

There has also been a recent spate of violence and abuse against LGBTQ people. This includes the beating of a lesbian by a doctor, and a mob attack on a Rwandan refugee, as well as four reported cases of murder,  said to be motivated by homophobia and transphobia.

“Government is not only failing to protect us — they are also violating our rights as Ugandans with sham criminal charges designed to silence us and forced anal exams to humiliate and torture us,” said Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). “Our communities are demanding that the charges against these 16 defendants be immediately dropped.”

Under colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex in Uganda, the 16 men face life in prison if found guilty of the “offence”.

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