44 LGBTQ+ people arrested in Uganda after police raid gathering

Police authorities called the group a 'same-sex wedding', however Pride Uganda described it as merely a 'peaceful gathering'.

A man holds his hand to his face

44 LGBTQ+ people have been arrested in Uganda after police raided what they described as a same-sex wedding although Pride Uganda has described the event as merely a “peaceful gathering”.

Local newspapers in Uganda reported that the 44 had been arrested for organising and attending a wedding after police “received a tip off about a group of men suspected to be homosexuals.”

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire, told reporters, “A team of police officers proceeded to the scene and a group of 38 adult males and six females were found conducting a ceremony at around 1pm that looked to be a wedding. All the men had make up and some were dressed as female in dresses and wigs.”

Owoyesigyire continued, “At the same functions gifts were recovered, these included suitcases, a tv, assorted gifts like sugar, salt, pineapples and many other gifts normally given at traditional functions.”

However, while newspapers ran with the same-sex wedding story, Pride Uganda described it differently on social media: “Several days ago, we hosted a peaceful gathering – yet, the police were informed and wrongfully detained members of our community with many still awaiting bail.” Photographs of the arrests which clearly showed the faces of those gathered were also plastered across news sites.

Owoyesigyire further said that the people at the event weren’t wearing masks or social distancing and that they would be charged for “a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease.” However, it was the suspicion of organising and attending a same-sex wedding which had apparently been the reason for the raid.

Only last month, in a blow to LGBTQ+ people in the country, Uganda passed a Sexual Offences Bill, which contains a clause to criminalise same-sex relationships. The bill punishes any “sexual act between persons of the same gender”, as well as anal sex between people of any gender, with up to 10 years in prison.

The Human Rights Watch says that it “violates international human rights law by criminalising consensual sexual acts between adults and yet falls short in its definition of consent. While offering provisions designed to prevent and punish sexual violence, it also further criminalises lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and sex workers.”

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