A team of human rights lawyers is heading to the Pader district in northern Uganda to investigate a report of five suspected homosexuals arrested there.
The lawyers are from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum – Uganda (HRAPF), which has arranged for legal representation for several recent LGBTI detainees and defendants in Uganda.
According to what appears to be a deeply flawed article in Uganda’s Daily Monitor, police in the Pader district arrested five people on suspicion of promoting homosexuality in local schools. The arrests reportedly included two businessmen, one teacher, and two students.
That news report came two days after the Ugandan Foreign Ministry released a statement in which it said that its foreign aid donors had “misinterpreted [the new Anti-Homosexuality Act] as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of ‘homosexual orientation.’ ”
Instead, the statement insisted, “The intention of the Act is to stop promotion and exhibition of homosexual practices.”
The statement added, the “Government of Uganda … will continue to guarantee equal treatment of all persons on the territory of Uganda” and “will continue to enable civil society and NGOs to operate freely.”
Few LGBTI activists believe that the new statement is accurate. (See details of the law here.) Instead, the statement is generally regarded as a falsehood-filled attempt to regain foreign aid that Uganda has lost because of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.
Because of the enactment of that law, the World Bank suspended a planned $90 million loan to Uganda, while European donors and the United States have rerouted aid away from the Ugandan government and to non-governmental organizations serving Ugandan people.
Since the enactment of the new anti-gay law in February:
A Ugandan court approved a crackdown on LGBTI rights organizations
- Police raided a U.S.-affiliated clinic that served LGBTI people. The clinic closed for a few weeks, decided to stop serving LGBTI people directly, then reopened.
- By April, an LGBT security hotline in Uganda had received reports of about 130 incidents of evictions, arrests and mob attacks, Sandra Ntebi, chair of the LGBT community security team, told Inter-Press Service.
- As attacks on LGBTI people increased, many fled the country, including prominent LGBTI activist John Wambere.
- By April, many LGBT people were in hiding and as many as a dozen Ugandans were awaiting trial on homosexuality-related charges, including new charges alleging violations of the country’s anti-gay law that has been in effect, but rarely enforced, before the enactment of this year’s law. At that point, three LGBT people were in Ugandan prisons pending the outcome of their trials.
- Ugandan judge OKs crackdowns on LGBTI rights groups (76crimes.com)
- Uganda mob seeks to oust gays; police arrest trans woman (76crimes.com)
- As many as 12 awaiting gay-sex trials in Uganda (76crimes.com)
- Ugandan priest: 10 reasons to repeal anti-gay law (76crimes.com)
- No bail for 2 Ugandans facing trial on gay-sex charges (76crimes.com)
- Potential life sentence for LGBT couple in Uganda (76crimes.com)
- Prominent Ugandan gay activist seeks U.S. asylum (76crimes.com)
- London protesters tell Uganda: Repeal anti-gay law (76crimes.com)