Ugandan police arrested 44 people at an LGBT+ shelter outside the country's capital of Kampala. While out on bail, they are now awaiting their trial and could face severe punishment. We are calling on the authorities to drop any charges made against them.
On May 31, 44 people were rounded up and arrested during a raid on what authorities claimed was a gay wedding held at the Happy Family Youth Shelter near Kampala, Uganda.
While officially the detained were charged with violating lockdown orders, it is clear the authorities have yet again used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to harass the LGBT+ community.
Some of the arrested were forced to undergo anal examinations – a practice with no scientific value and a form of sexual abuse – to determine whether or not they are gay. Others reported having been insulted and beaten by the police officers. Several reported they have not received their confiscated personal belongings back.
This is not the first time Ugandan police have used the pandemic to harass LGBT+ people. In March 2020, 23 people were arrested at the Children of the Sun Foundation, an LGBT+ homeless shelter on the outskirts of Kampala.
With the help of our legal partners, we have been able to get the 44 released on bail. But they’re not safe yet. Their trial is coming up in the next few weeks, and they could face severe punishment and penalties.
We demand the authorities drop any charges made against them, and we call on them to respect the rights of all Ugandans and to end the harassment of the LGBT+ community.
Update – 27 September 2021: The Nansana Magistrates Court has dropped all charges. This is good news, but the 44 have suffered from being harassed and held against their will, and should not have been arrested in the first place.