SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign join Health Gap and other civil society groups in condemning the Ugandan police attack on a lawful LGBTI celebration in Kampala.

On August 4, on the third night of a week of Ugandan LGBTI Pride celebrations, a vibrant and festive pageant underway at Kampala’s Club Venom to crown Mr/Ms/Mx Uganda was brutally and unlawfully raided the Uganda police, starting at approximately 11:30 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 the club, arrested more than 20 people—the majority of whom are Ugandan LGBT rights activists—and detained hundreds more for more than 90 minutes, beating people, humiliating people, taking pictures of LGBTI Ugandans, confiscating cameras. Eyewitnesses reported several people—in particular transwomen and transmen—were sexually assaulted by police. One person jumped from a 6-story window to try to avoid police abuse—this person is now in critical condition at Mulago Hospital.

By approximately 1:15 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

“We strongly condemn these violations of Ugandans’ rights to peaceful association and assembly,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda. “These brutal actions by police are unacceptable and must face the full force of Ugandan law.”

“Government must condemn violent illegal actions by police targeting LGBT 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. Tonight’s outrageous and unlawful government raid on a spirited celebration displays the extreme impunity under which Ugandan police are operating.

We call on governments to immediately and publicly condemn this raid and call on government to take swift disciplinary action against those responsible for these gross violations of rights and freedoms.

Pride Uganda celebrations will continue as planned—with a celebration Saturday August 6. The LGBTI Ugandan community will not be defeated.

ENDS

Contact for more information:
Clare Byarugaba
Chapter Four Uganda
tel: +256 774 068 663
clarebyarugaba@gmail.com
twitter: @clarekabale

Asia Russell
Health GAP (Global Access Project)
asia@healthgap.org
tel: +256 776 574 729 and +1 267 475 2645 (US)
twitter: @asia_ilse