Prison possible for British producer of ‘gay’ Uganda play

David Cecil (Photo courtesy of Radio Netherlands Worldwide)
David Cecil (Photo courtesy of Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

The producer of a gay-themed play in Uganda could face a two-year prison sentence, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports.

David Cecil was arrested last week after putting on the play “The River and the Mountain” in mid-August at a bar/cultural center managed by Cecil and his girlfriend in Kampala.

He was accused of ignoring an advance warning from the Uganda Media Council that the play should not be staged until official clearance was received. The Media  Council later banned the play, stating that sections of it “implicitly promote homosexual acts”, which “are contrary to the laws, cultural norms and values of Uganda,” according to AllAfrica.com.

Radio Netherlands reported:

Cecil says he and British playwright Beau Hopkins, together with Ugandan director Angella Emurwon and the Ugandan actors, decided to go ahead with the staging because the Media Council’s initial warning letter “in no way” made reference to any potential legal consequences. Cecil says: “Even my Ugandan lawyer read the letter and said: ‘It does not clearly constitute a legal order’.”

But as it went, Cecil was contacted by the police and subsequently charged for disobeying an order from a public authority – the Media Council. After reviewing the charges, authorities will decide whether or not to bring the 34-year-old producer before court. It is unclear when the decision will take place.

In the meantime, Cecil, who has been living in Uganda for three years, has had to hand over his [British] passport. A police bond has been issued for him.

Cecil says he’s not an activist and might have canceled the production if the initial warning had been clearer.

“I really didn’t mean to insult anyone, and I am not a rights advocate. I only wanted to open up dialogue,” he said.

Cecil said he has become enmeshed in a situation similar to what the play portrayed — anti-homosexuality “anger and hatred [that] has been whipped up by politicians and religious leaders for their own purposes,” in the words of playwright Beau Hopkins. Radio Netherlands said:

He admits to feeling like he has “fallen into the trap” of local powers that gladly seize any chance to present homosexuality as an abomination that is being “imported” by Westerners like himself. “This is ironic because it is exactly the theme of our play,” Cecil says. “This, again ironically, shows that our play contains some kind of truth.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

3 Comments

Leave a Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Activists: Zimbabwe media make up anti-gay stories

    Imprisoned, beaten, freed, Cameroon man gives back