Five recent homosexuality-related arrests in Uganda turn out to be unrelated to “promotion of homosexuality,” which is how they were reported in the Ugandan press. Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum — Uganda (HRAPF) issued the following report today.
(Also see the remarks below from activist / commentator Scott Long about how this case demonstrates the continued denial of human rights to LGBT Ugandans.)
We now have a complete report on what happened in Pader. The Daily Monitor article had some correct information and some
wrong information. Just like my update yesterday which was based on preliminary findings. The verified information is as below.
On Wednesday 9th July, the online version of the Daily Monitor had a story titled ‘Five suspected homosexuals arrested’. The paper reported that five people had been arrested in Pader district in Northern Uganda on suspicions of promoting homosexuality. A team from HRAPF and SMUG went to Pader to establish the veracity of what was reported in the article. The team spoke to the Officer in Charge at Pader Police Station, the District Police Commander of Pader, one of the persons arrested, and visited the
school where the incidents of promotion of homosexuality were said to have taken place.
The team found out the following:
1. It is true that five people including a minor were arrested in Pader on allegations of homosexuality. The arrests took place on 26th and 27th of June 2014. The five persons are: an 18-year-old who was the original complainant, a 34 year old businessman; a 16-year-old student who stays with the businessman, and a 21-year-old and a 30-year-old.
2. The background to the case is that one of the arrested persons, the now 18 year old (who was a minor at the time the case was first reported) was arrested on 10th October 2013 for attempted suicide. When asked about the reasons for attempting suicide, he stated that his employer with whom he had been staying had started acting violent towards him. That they had been living together for sometime as ‘husband and wife’ but he had turned violent after he had accused him of stealing his money. That is why he attempted to take his life by stabbing himself. The Police did not arrest the employer at that point.
On or around 25th June 2014 he once again stabbed himself and he was arrested by the Police. He repeated the story and that is when the Police arrested the other four.
3. They were not charged with any offence but statements were taken from them.
4. They were subjected to anal exams which were inconclusive.
5. The file was forwarded to the Resident State Attorney who did not
advise on any charge but instead sent the file back to the police
commenting that there was no evidence of any offence related to
6. The police released all the persons who had been arrested on Police Bond. The file however remains open and ‘investigations’ are ongoing.
7. On the allegations of promotion of homosexuality, no one was charged with this, and the Headmaster of the school denies that there are cases of recruitment that have been heard in the school. The Police also do not
mention any facts on which this was based.
That is all for now.
PS: This update is public so it can be quoted from or reported about.
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum- Uganda (HRAPF)
Continued violations of human rights of LGBT Ugandans
In the article “Five arrests for ‘homosexuality’ in Uganda: A fuller story,” activist / commentator Scott Long discusses the injustices that LGBT people face in Uganda, specifically even in a case such as this one, in which no charges have been filed and the arrestees were released:
First: a minor claimed that he was a victim of domestic violence. The legal case started, though, when he was arrested as a result, followed by the alleged perpetrator and others. In other words, the story shows again that even Uganda’s old, colonial-era sodomy law (never mind the new one) denies people accused of being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender the basic protection of the law. The rhetoric surrounding the new “Anti-Homosexuality” law was that it was meant to protect “children and other vulnerable groups,” as the recent government statement reaffirmed. That’s nonsense. Children are at threat, deprived of any protection under the law.
Second, while we don’t know what else these people underwent during the police investigation. the “inconclusive” forensic anal exams, while medically valueless, are also an intrusive and abusive form of inhuman treatment that, conducted in carceral conditions, can amount to torture.
Third, the “investigation” continues to hang over the heads of the abused men, with no indication of whether or when they could finally be exculpated and freed from the threat.
Torture, abuse of children, absence of safety or protection, unending and debilitating uncertainty: even without the Anti-Homosexuality Act being invoked, the legal menaces to the lives of LGBT Ugandans are real enough.