10th August 2016
Pride Uganda celebrates and highlights Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) achievements and human rights violation with an opening ceremony on the 2nd August followed by many other events across the city. On the 5th August at one of the events, “Mr & Miss Pride 2016”, which took place in a night club and licensed bar, we received report of a raid from late in the evening to the early hours of the morning.
Reverend Jide Macaulay, British Nigerian, Founder and CEO of House Of Rainbow who was in Kampala Uganda as the Guest and “Grand Marshall” of Pride Uganda 2016, gave an eye witness account of the raid. This was a grand involvement of House Of Rainbow, an organization that reaches out for the welfare of the LGBTIQ people of faith. Also part sponsoring the event bringing a faith element to Pride Uganda. Rev Macaulay said, “I am very distressed for the LGBTIQ people of Uganda, I am humbled and honoured to be the Grand Marshall for the pride and to have witnessed these abuses”.
At about 11pm local time in Kampala, on the 5th August, the police stormed the venue, with firearms and uniformed officer, the pageant show was active and the atmosphere was beautiful and electric. When the police arrived, the music was still on, people thought there was a disturbance as the police led people away. Those first arrested were most of the contestants in the beauty pageant, mostly transgender people and for whom these events meant so much.
There were mix crowd of people from Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Congo, UK, Germany, USA, etc, It was believed there were nearly 300 people at the event. It was cheerful, exciting and happy celebration before the police raid.
We understand that more than 20 people were arrested and later released, many of the leading activists and friends of House Of Rainbow, including Dr Frank Mugisha, Pepe Julian, Richard Lusimbo, Clare Byarugba etc. The police simply came to cause mayhem and this should not be happening in the 21st century.
Uganda Police tortured and violated transgender revelers at the raid, pressing on trans men chest. Those with wigs where forced to remove their wigs amidst the humiliation.
Many transgender people were singled out, detained and arrested last night. They were viciously tortured and humiliated by the police. Trans people also have rights.
“Many others arrested were attending pride event for the first time and you can see the terror and fear on people’s faces”, said Rev Macaulay.
The crowd were ushered into a narrow space by police with guns, at first it was thought they were being asked to leave the building but the police held the people in captivity for nearly two hours, in terrible conditions, it was a terrifying moment for everyone. The revelers were forced to sit on the floor
and several of the police officers in uniformed used their mobile phone cameras to take photographs forcing people to look up, a few who became distressed were crying and throwing themselves on the floor. Two people were said to have panicked and jumped from the fourth floor to lower levels, one person got stuck on another level and a second person suffered seriously and was hospitalized with extended injuries but not life threatening.
Rev Macaulay was not arrested but detained, as one of the organisers personally handed him into the safety of one of their security volunteers and was required to follow their instructions. More than a dozen people were physically injured but strongly believed many more were scared, suffered trauma which may require ongoing counselling, pastoral care and support. We have a message to the Uganda LGBTIQ community, we believe there is a need to review Pride events for safety, we also want to encourage the community to be strong and don’t give up. We urge the Uganda Police, to respect the LGBTIQ community, these are the most loving people and the LGBTIQ people live with fear of arrest and humiliation daily. This need to stop. We urge the Uganda government to enshrine protective and non-discriminatory laws to allow for the freedom of LGBTIQ people in the country. We urge our global human rights communities and leaders to take more seriously the problems of oppression such as homophobia, transphobia seriously in order to make progress on human rights in Uganda.
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