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Gay-friendly bar in Uganda raided, 125 arrested

According to a report, a bar in Kampala, Uganda known to be LGBT+ friendly was raided by police, resulting in the arrest of 125 people.

The OutRight Action Internation campaign group a gay-friendly bar in the Ugandan town of Kampala was raided by police on Saturday night. According to their report around 125 were arrested and charged with drug possession which OutRight says is an indication of “an intentional and growing persecution” of gay people in the country.

The bar in question is an LGBT+ friendly bar and has been used by local activists for community events for over seven years. It was the only bar raided on the evening in question, indicating a clear targeting of gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people. According to Kuchu Times, the people arrested are due to appear in court within the next couple of days.

Kasha Jacquelin, a Ugandan LGBT activist, told OutRight:

“The past has shown that it is difficult to prosecute anyone for being LGBT. Using trumped-up drug charges is a new and frightening tactic; one which is really hard to tackle and will make our battle even tougher.”

Persecution of LGBT+ people has increased in Uganda in recent months, as rumours of the so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Act” which would impose the death penalty for same-sex relations have resurfaced.

At least four people have been killed in suspected hate-motivated attacks. Arrests of LGBT+ people have also increased. Prior to the raid carried out on November 10th, 16 people were arrested and charged with “trafficking in persons” and “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” at the end of October.

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Increasing hate and stigma

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, commented:

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“The resurfacing of the anti-homosexuality bill in a country which already prescribes life imprisonment for same-sex relations could only have had one intention – to increase hate and stigma against LGBTIQ people, putting them at heightened risk of arbitrary detention and attack. That is exactly what is happening. The growing intensity of arrests, the clear targeting of an LGBTIQ friendly bar, makes it painfully clear that a witch hunt is being mounted against LGBTIQ Ugandans.”

Is sex between men illegal in Uganda?

Sex between males has been criminalised in Uganda since British colonial times. At the turn of the century, the law was extended to include sex between females.

Articles on “unnatural offences” and “indecent practices” have been retained in the Penal Code since independence. “Carnal knowledge against the order of nature” between males carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

jodylehigh / Pixabay

The so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Act,” prescribing a death penalty for gay sex, was first passed by the parliament of Uganda in 2013 and signed into law by President Museveni in early 2014. It was invalidated by the Constitutional Court of Uganda on procedural grounds the same year.

According to local activists, the Minister of Ethics and Integrity of Uganda, Simon Lokodo, has indicated an intention to reintroduce the bill.

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