Protest in front of Uganda’s U.K. High Commission
LONDON, UK–Gay campaigners and their allies rallied today outside the Ugandan High Commission in London to protest against one of the protest leaders called “Uganda’s witch-hunts and show trials of LGBT people.”
The protest was timed to coincide with two cause celebre gay court cases that took place in Uganda today, respectively involving Sam Ganafa and Bernard Randall.
The protesters chanted: “Free Sam! Free Bernard! Uganda – Repeal anti-gay laws” and “2-4-6-8. Uganda stop the hate. 3-5-7-9. Gay love is not a crime.”
Ugandan gay rights leader Samuel K. Ganafa appeared in court at Nabweru today, over allegedly trumped up accusations of sodomy and infecting a man with HIV. He was remanded in Kasangati prison until his next court date, 25 November.
At least three of his colleagues may also face charges. Ganafa is the executive director of Spectrum Uganda and the Chair of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).
The trial of a retired expatriate British gay man, Bernard Randall and his Ugandan friend, Albert Cheptoyek, was adjourned this morning until 4 December at the Entebbe court. Bernard faces charges of trafficking obscene publications. This charge relates to private, intimate videos. These videos only became public and police knowledge after Bernard’s laptop was stolen and his personal videos were leaked to the media. Albert is being charged with gross indecency.
These charges and court cases are the latest examples of a sustained campaign of state-sponsored harassment of LGBT people and activists in Uganda. Today’s London protest was jointly organized by the African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
“We are protesting against the homophobic witch-hunts and show trials in Uganda. These prosecutions violate Uganda’s own constitution and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, both of which guarantee equal treatment and non-discrimination to all citizens. The criminalization of homosexuality is contrary to these human rights obligations, which Uganda has agreed and pledged to uphold. All charges should be dropped and Uganda’s colonial-era anti-homosexual laws repealed,” said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and attended and spoke at today’s protest.
“Uganda is known as one of the worst countries in the world to be gay. The maximum penalty for same-sex relations is life imprisonment and a bill before the parliament in Kampala proposes the death penalty for repeat homosexual offenders. In addition, there are widespread homophobic threats and mob violence – often fuelled by anti-gay Christian fundamentalists who are supported by right-wing evangelical pastors in the US,” said Tatchell.
Richard Banadda from the African lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) Out & Proud Diamond Group coordinated today’s London protest. He said: “Our demonstration urged the immediate release of Samuel K Ganafa and others, plus the release of Bernard Randall and Albert Cheptoyek. The British government to intervene immediately in case of Bernard Randall to secure his safe return to the UK. Britain and the EU should declare Uganda as unsafe for LGBTI people and issue warnings to LGBTI people traveling to Uganda as tourists or living there as expatriates.The government of Uganda should decriminalize homosexuality and legislate protection against discrimination for LGBTI people. The British government and EU should impose a travel ban on Ugandan extremists who incite homophobic hatred and whose inflammatory statements fuel anti-gay violence, such as Pastor Martin Ssempa, Rev Minister Francis Lokodo, Pastor Solomon Male, MP David Bahati and others. A similar travel ban should apply to US pastors who have stirred up hatred of LGBTI people in Uganda and contributed to the climate of bigotry, repression and violence. “
“It was hypocritical for the British Prime Minister David Cameron to join with the leader of Uganda at the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, while a British citizen is fearing for his life and liberty because of his sexuality,” said Edwin Sesange, Director African LGBTI Out & Proud Diamond Group.
“He should have spoken out at CHOGM against homophobic persecution in Uganda – and in other Commonwealth member states.”