Persecution of LGBTI Ugandans Continues Despite Court Decision on Theater Producer

Freedom House welcomes a Ugandan court’s decision Wednesday to drop charges against British theater producer David Cecil, who staged a play about homosexuality, but reiterates its call for an end to the ongoing persecution of Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) people.

Cecil was arrested in September 2012 after performances in Kampala of The River and the Mountain, a story about a gay businessman killed by his employees. Cecil had been charged with staging the play without clearance from Uganda’s Media Council and faced up to two years in jail if convicted, but a magistrate dismissed the case due to the prosecution’s failure to provide evidence.

This positive step, however, comes amidst reports of continuing police threats and harassment of Ugandan LGBTI activists and organizations, including the recent arrest of two members of an LGBTI youth organization. Freedom House condemns restrictions on LGBTI rights and urges the Ugandan government to cease its attacks on LGBTI individuals and organizations.

Homosexual acts are currently illegal in Uganda. In 2009, Member of Parliament David Bahati introduced further legislation strengthening the criminalization of homosexuality, including the death penalty or life sentences in certain circumstances. The bill has been reintroduced several times, with the most recent version in 2012 potentially removing death penalty provisions but including penalties for “promotion of homosexuality” and failure to report others for violations of the law. Uganda’s parliament, currently on vacation, will reconvene in February and may consider the bill in its next session. Ugandan LGBTI activists are regularly harassed, detained, and arrested by police, and violence against homosexuals has increased since the introduction of the anti-gay bill.

Uganda is rated Partly Free in the 2012 editions of Freedom House’s Freedom in the World, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom on the Net surveys.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2012: Uganda

Freedom of the Press 2012: Uganda

Freedom on the Net 2012: Uganda

Countries at the Crossroads 2012: Uganda

Press Release: LGBTI People Endangered by Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda