(KAMPALA) On August 4, on the third night of a week of Ugandan LGBTI Pride celebrations, a vibrant pageant underway at Kampala’s Club Venom to crown Mr/Ms/Mx Uganda was brutally and unlawfully raided by the Uganda police, starting at approximately 10:45 PM.
Police claimed that they had been told a “gay wedding” was taking place and that the celebration was “unlawful” because police had not been informed (police in fact had granted prior permission for the celebration and were fully aware).
The police locked the gates of Club Venom, arrested more than 16 people—the majority of whom are Ugandan LGBT rights activists—and detained hundreds more under gun point for over 90 minutes, beating people, humiliating people, taking pictures of LGBTI Ugandans and threatening to publish them, and confiscating cameras. Eyewitnesses reported several people—in particular transwomen and transmen—were sexually assaulted by police. One person jumped from a 4 storey window to try to avoid police abuse. This person is now in critical condition at private hospital. Dr Frank Mugisha and Mr Pepe Julian Onziema checked on the victim after being released from police cells.
By approximately 1:20 AM all arrestees had been released from the Kabalagala Police Station—none had been charged with any offense. This shocking example of Ugandan police brutality did not happen in isolation. It comes at a time of escalating violence targeting media, civil society and the political opposition, see:https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/18/dispatches-ugandas-brazen-police-beatings
“Excessive force by Ugandan police targeting a peaceful and lawful assembly is outrageous,” said Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), who was among those arrested last night. “The LGBTI community stands with all Ugandan civil society movements against police brutality.”
“Government must condemn violent illegal actions by police targeting the LGBTI community and all Ugandans,” said Asia Russell of Health GAP. “The US and all governments must challenge President Museveni to intervene immediately and hold his police force accountable.”
LGBTI Ugandans routinely face violence, discrimination, bigotry, blackmail, and extortion. Yesterday’s outrageous and unlawful government raid on a spirited celebration displays the extreme impunity under which Ugandan police are operating, see: