Africa

Breaking news: Police lockdown at Ugandan pride event

Dr. Frank Mugisha (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Frank Mugisha (Photo courtesy Facebook)

Ugandan police today disrupted the Mr. and Miss Pride competition in Kampala and imposed a lockdown. This blog is covering the news as it develops.

Many people, including at least three Ugandan LGBTI rights leaders, were arrested or at least  detained. Trans participants reportedly were beaten, caned, and sexually assaulted by police.

Dozens of people at the Pride event were reportedly arrested, the Washington Blade said.

Within three hours of the arrival of police, detainees had been released.

Frank Mugisha, the executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), tweeted: “After a few hours of detention, I have been set free. Every one is safe. Thank you, all my friends, for the support & solidarity.”

This is how the police intrusion unfolded, as reported online. From the Uganda Pride page on Facebook, modestly edited:

11:20 pm, Aug. 4, Ugandan time: Let’s pray for our Ugandan LGBTIQQ who have been attending Mr. and Miss Pride 2016-2017.  All people attending it, including activists Frank Mugisha and Pepe Onziema, both leaders at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and others have been confined on top of a tall building by Uganda police.

12:05 am, Aug. 5: Situation now calm. Police have let people out, but some of our colleagues are still at the police.

Mugisha reported on Twitter at 11:25 pm:

“I am arrested by Ugandan police.”

Later from the Uganda Pride page, regarding legal assistance from the LGBTI rights legal support organization HRAPF (the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum):

12:30 am — HRAPF Uganda lawyers are now at the scene to see if they can provide support. One HRAPF lawyer was at the event.

Also, at about 1 am:

Finally, after one hour and a half, police let us go and they have officially cancelled our Mr. and Miss  Pride. Ugandan police forcefully took photos of people’s faces, forced us to delete our recordings. Journalists’ cameras were being confiscated. We were intimated, bullied. Some LGBTQ security team and activists are still being held. Our trans sisters faced body violations as police people touched their breasts and butts apparently determining if they are men or women.

It was so painful watching some of our contestants struggling to unplait their hair, trying to undress their high heels and removing makeup. Damn you, Uganda Police!

The O-blog-dee LGBTI rights blog also followed the events as they unfolded. It reported:

These reports remain unconfirmed and we will provide updates as they come in. Most disconcerting is a report that more than one person may have jumped off the building.  We are hearing of injuries. We are not sure if this is correct.

Uganda Pride logo

Uganda Pride 2016 logo

Uganda Pride has been held for several years under a cloak of secrecy. Pride in Uganda involves a series of events over several days. Usually the organizers and participants release information after the week long events are over.  Pride participants are not told of venues until the last minute.  This year it seems no wonder that the police would get wind of the series of Pride events, given the fact that news has spread across social media, possibly by activists themselves.

Pride organizers have encouraged the sharing of information and it seems no wonder that police would raid, given the Ugandan community perception that promoting homosexuality is against the law.

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2 thoughts on “Breaking news: Police lockdown at Ugandan pride event

  1. Pingback: Gay rights activists arrested in Uganda | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Uganda is historically homophobic, streamlining only messages of love and forgiveness may not reduce the hate crimes against the innocent LGBT community. Uganda Laws should be interpreted in the general interests of all but with special attention to the society’s minority.

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