Uganda has started arresting LGBT activists in the capital city of Kampala as the country joins Nigeria, Cameroon and Zimbabwe as the most actively repressive anti-gay nations outside the Middle East.
Today a second gay youth worker, Kabuye Najibu of the Ugandan LGBT group Youth on Rock Foundation, was arrested on homosexuality-related charges. He was detained when he entered the Kawempe police station in Kampala to visit Joseph Kawesi, who was arrested on similar charges Dec. 31.
[Update: Reportedly they have now been released, but are in hiding.]
Kawesi is a co-founder of the Youth on Rock Foundation, which provides health and wellness information to LGBTI youth.
In her blog, South African attorney and United States-based LGBT rights advocate Melanie Nathan reported that both Najibu and Kawesi were arrested for “crimes relating to homosexuality” and “recruitment into homosexuality.”
Another colleague of Kawesi visited the police station with Najibu, but escaped before he could be arrested, Nathan said. The man said police were viewing Kawesi and Najibu’s Facebook pages and was told that police might use that online information as evidence against them.
Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha told Gay Star News that police have been interrogating Kawesi for information that might be used for further arrests. He said:
We are liaising with the police at all levels, working hard to get them both released, I hope by tomorrow.
My fear is, however, that by interrogating the two, the police are collecting as much information as they can – they already are very likely to have by now a list of names, telephone numbers and addresses.
The police are operating in the same neighbourhood of the two – they know them by name, by face and their parents.
They have most likely been following the meetings of the youth group for some time now – so this operation is coordinated and planned.
Also this week, the offices of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) were broken into and office equipment was stolen, including computers with personal information about LGBT people. Nathan told Gay Star News:
It is no coincidence, in my opinion, that these men have been arrested shortly after the offices of SMUG had been broken into, where computers hosting sensitive information were stolen.
‘It seems to me that the frustration engendered by [the Ugandan parliament’s failure to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill] by Christmas has unleashed a wave of heightened and illegal persecution against gays.
Nathan said some members of the Ugandan LGBT community say that they have gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
- Ugandan LGBTI Youth Group Founder Arrested for Homosexuality (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Second Gay Youth Worker Arrested in Uganda (oblogdeeoblogda.me)
- Second Uganda gay youth worker arrested for ‘recruiting’ teens into homosexuality (Gay Star News)
- LGBT world 2012: victories, setbacks, close calls (76crimes.com)
- Over a million speak out against Uganda’s anti-gay bill (76crimes.com)
- Uganda drops case against producer of gay-themed play (76crimes.com)