HRC Strongly Condemns Ugandan Police Raid of LGBTQ Pride Event

Last Thursday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organisation, strongly condemned the police raid of a peaceful LGBTQ pride event in Kampala, the country’s capital. While events continue to unfold, police arrested several participants, including activists Frank Mugisha and Pepe Onziema of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

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“The violent raid and arrest of LGBTQ leaders attending a Uganda Pride event is an affront to the universal freedom to peaceably assemble and to the basic dignity of LGBTQ Ugandans,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Ugandan authorities must stop targeting and persecuting LGBTQ people. The victims of the raid deserve an apology from their government and police force. The world is watching.”

The raid was carried out shortly after a Ugandan tribute to the 49 victims of the deadly shooting in Orlando. The event marked the second evening of Uganda Pride 2016. HRC and other partners sponsored Uganda Pride’s opening reception the previous night. HRC is monitoring the situation closely and working with partners in Uganda to help in any way that we can.

“The reaction to the raid highlighted the ever-growing global movement for LGBTQ equality,” said Ty Cobb, Director, HRC Global. “Within minutes after the raid began, activists from around the world joined forces to condemn the incident and call for the release of those who were in custody. We are stronger together.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, signed the country’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014. Though the Constitutional Court subsequently invalidated it in August the same year, the law created a violent backlash against the LGBTQ Ugandan community that persists today. President Museveni won re-election in February with 62 percent of the vote, however international electoral observers asserted that the election “fell short of key democratic benchmarks,” noting the arrest of opposition party members and the government’s shutdown of social media sites.

Another recent law affecting the LGBTQ community and activists is the Non-Governmental Organisations Act. Passed in November 2015, it requires all non-government organizations to apply for a permit in order to operate and gives authorities the ability to jail leaders of organizations if their message is “against public interests.” The measure threatens to stop the work of organizations including SMUG, as well as the work of other international NGOs operating in Uganda. Under President Museveni’s authoritarian rule, the situation remains grim for LGBTQ groups and activists and they are unable to advocate peacefully.

Read more about LGBTQ rights in Uganda here.