“We are not canceling Pride because of your homophobia and disrespect for our rights, this is a decision that has been taken to protect ourselves.”
This morning police surrounded the venue of the Opening Gala, and later in the day as talks with police and other relevant authorities were ongoing, more police deployment was made to the venues of the Pride events that were to follow over the coming days.
“It is with very heavy hearts and deep-felt sadness that we announce the cancellation of Pride Uganda 2017,” the organisers said, according to Kuchu Times.
In a press statement, the organisers criticised State Minister of Ethics & Integrity, Simon Lokodo, saying, “over the last couple of weeks [he] threatened us with arrest, and even went as far as revealing his intentions to physically harm one of the leaders within the movement if he came in contact with her. He has categorically stated, time and again that gender and sexual minorities have no rights in Uganda and today had all the venues of the planned Pride events surrounded by state militia. He has abused our very existence by stripping us of even the very basic of our rights, he refuses to acknowledge our humanity or right of association, speech, movement as well as freedom from degrading treatment.”
Police Violence at 2016 Pride Event
According to Human Rights Watch, last year Ugandan police unlawfully raided an event late in the evening of August 4, 2016, the third night of a week of Ugandan LGBTI Pride celebrations, brutally assaulting participants. Witnesses reported that the police assaulted many participants, in particular transgender women and men, in some cases groping and fondling them. One person jumped from a sixth-floor window to avoid police abuse and is in a hospital in critical condition.
“There were no second thoughts about whether or not Pride should happen this year,” the 2017 organisers said, “in fact there was no need for debate – we were not going to allow hate, homophobia, prejudice, and a misinformed and biased society to get in the way of the one time in the year that we get together and remind ourselves that we are no criminals, we are no misfits and we are no mistakes!”
“We are not canceling Pride because of your homophobia and disrespect for our rights, this is a decision that has been taken to protect ourselves,” the statement continued. “Otherwise how else will we fight your oppression if you kill us or imprison us for no crime?”
The statement ended with the words, ‘Aluta Continua’, which roughly translated mean, ‘the fight goes on.’
© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.