Reports that LGBT participants have been physically and emotionally Abused by Ugandan Police
Reports are coming in from an Uganda Pride event, Mr. and Mrs. Pride, that police have raided, possibly made arrests of LGBTI activists and human rights defenders, while detaining attendees on the rooftop of a building.:
An activist at the event informed us as follows:
“Police in Uganda have just raided a LGBTI pride week event at a night club in Kampala. Reports say that Frank Mugisha and Pepe Onziema, both leaders at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), have been arrested. All attendees are locked up in this building by the police.”
These reports remain unconfirmed and we will provide updates as they come in. Most disconcerting is a report that more than one person may have jumped off the building. We are hearing of injuries. We are not sure if this is correct.
Uganda Pride has been held for several years under a cloak of secrecy. Pride in Uganda involves a series of events over several days. Usually the organizers and participants release information after the week long events are over. Pride participants are not told of venues until the last minute. This year it seems no wonder that the police would get wind of the series of Pride events, given the fact that news has spread across social media, possibly by activists themselves.
Pride organizers have encouraged the sharing of information and it seems no wonder that police would raid, given the Ugandan community perception that promoting homosexuality is against the law. Since the Anti Homosexuality Act was held to be invalid by the Ugandan Courts back in 2014, many still hold the belief that promoting homosexuality is unlawful under the existing Penal Code that outlaws “acts against the order of nature.” This is subject to dispute.
We will keep you updated as reports continue to trickle in.
Updated 3.30 PM PST:
Ugandan LGBT activist reports:
Finally after one hour and a half police let’s us go & they have officially cancelled off our Mr & miss Pride.
Ugandan police forcefully took photos of peoples faces, forced us to delete our recordings, journalists cameras were being confiscated, we were intimated, bullied and while some LGBTQ security team and activists are still being held our trans sisters Bad Black & Rihana faced body violations as police people touched their breasts and butts apparently determining if they are men or women! It was so painful watching some of our contestants struggling to unplait their hair, trying to undress their high heels & removing makeup!
damn you Uganda Police!
UPDATED: I sent out messages to lawyers from HRAPF who inform us they are on the scene. Its difficult to deal with at night, however they have been deployed to help those detained.
UPDATED 5.30 PM PST : Reports that those who were detained have been released. Also confirmed that one person tried to escape by jumping and apparently fell from 4th floor of building. We are waiting for a report on injuries. We have received report that two activists were beaten by police while under arrest /in detention with one possibly sustaining injuries requiring hospitalization. We have the activists name but are choosing not to make it public at this time.
UPDATED: Portions of eye witness account by visiting DJ:
…… Suddenly panic ensued. The police had stormed the venue with machine guns and arrested her right off the stage. They then proceeded to chase the crowd of about a hundred people – of which I was one.
Screams of fear went through the room as everyone tried to escape. Someone jumped out of the building and ended up in hospital. We were then all held hostage by Policemen with machine guns, who took photos of people. Apparently tomorrow these photos might appear in the newspapers, outing the individuals to the public. The officers then ordered us all down on the floor. I looked into a man’s eyes and it was the saddest pair of eyes I’ve ever met. Someone was crying loudly. ……
Finally the Police ordered us into the main room where the rainbow flags had been torn down. They took over the microphone in the DJ booth and proclaimed that this raid was not about sexual orientation but that the party was an unlawful assembly, although I have been informed the organisers had received the necessary permit. The Police basically hid behind some formality. I was told they had taken some of the trans women I work with to the Police station and beat them badly. They also arrested the activists who organised the events, who have since been set free. The Police will of course not be able to prosecute anyone on the suspicion of ‘being gay’ as they have no proof of any “buggery,” so they’ll have to let them go. This is something the Police knows, but they basically wanted to intimidate and terrorize the community and ultimately close the event down. They succeeded. But its not over yet…….
I leave you with a picture of some of the wonderful contestants I met at the Mr and Miss Uganda Pride competition this evening. The category they competed in was ‘cultural attire’ and in contrast to the widespread notion that being LGBT is a western corrupt influence and “un-African”, they entered the stage celebrating their African heritage. Moments later the Police stormed the building and arrested them. These are the heroes the world needs to celebrate.
From updated information – It seems the attack against this Pride event in Uganda was orchetstrated by the notorious homophobe Fr. Simon Lokodo , Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity.
Activists have advised:
“Lokodo-ethics minister has committed to organizing a mob/vigilante group to attack anyone who will show up at the gay pride parade tomorrow.
He compared LGBT people to terrorists. ”
UPDATE: US Ambassador Statement after the Pride raid:
Statement by U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac.
I was dismayed to hear the accounts of a police raid last night on a peaceful event in Kampala to celebrate Uganda Pride Week and recognize the talents and contributions of the country’s LGBTI community. The fact that police reportedly beat and assaulted Ugandan citizens engaged in peaceful activities is unacceptable and deeply troubling.
This incident adds to a growing list of reports concerning police brutality in Uganda. While the United States has faced its own recent allegations of improper use of force by law enforcement officials, the fact remains that abuses committed by those sworn to uphold the law are unacceptable in any country. As our own experience shows, issues of police brutality and impunity can only be resolved by holding officials accountable, and by encouraging open and frank dialogue between citizens and government. I hope Ugandan authorities will investigate this and other incidents, and treat them with the seriousness they deserve.
No person should face abuse or discrimination because of who they are. The U.S. Embassy stands with Uganda’s LGBTI community and Ugandans of all backgrounds and beliefs to defend the dignity of all citizens. We call on the Ugandan authorities to safeguard the freedoms of all Ugandans under the law.
PRIOR REPORTS ON PAST UGANDA PRIDE EVENTS: https://oblogdeeoblogda.me/?s=Uganda+Pride