September 25, 2016

Police Block ‘Homo Celebrations’ In Entebbe

Police Blocks ‘Homo Celebrations’ In Entebbe

Ugandan police have blocked gay pride celebrations from happening in two resorts outside the capital, Kampala.

Gay rights activist Frank Mugisha said more than 100 LGBTI people tried to participate in the celebrations in Entebbe near Lake Victoria.

But many were escorted by police back to Kampala in minibuses.

The minister for ethics and integrity had threatened to mobilise mobs to attack participants. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda.

After being blocked from entering the Entebbe resort, several dozen participants moved on to another resort but were kicked out by officers.

Organizer and activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was among those who refused to leave the venue.

“Now the police officer is telling us to leave, so I want clarity on what grounds should we leave. We are people who have come to have fun. Until he gives us reasons and any legal offenses that we’ve committed we aren’t going anywhere. Because this is a public park; we are Ugandans and we are here to celebrate pride,” Nabagesera said.

The police eventually towed Nabagesera’s car and escorted the buses down the main highway towards Kampala. Many worried they were headed to the police station. One man in a panic jumped out the window of the moving bus. When the convoy stopped, tensions boiled over.

Although police made their presence known they did not interact with those protesting. Soon after, pressure from nearby fruit vendors caused the convoy to start up again and continue a few miles down the road, where police abandoned their escort. Police have not been available for comment.

This is the second time the LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex] community has tried to hold gay pride celebrations in Uganda this year. In August, the authorities broke up a beauty pageant and arrested activists.

The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga reports from Kampala that it is unclear why this event was targeted, as over the past four years celebrations have been held without much notice from the police.

In 2014 a bill to further criminalise homosexuality was overturned in court.

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