LGBTIQ+ Ugandans bring legal fight to authorities after alleged torture

A group of LGBTIQ+ Ugandans have come together to take legal action against those in power, alleging they were tortured after being arrested during COVID-19 lockdown.

The Guardian has reported that a group of four trans women, two bisexual men and 14 gay men near capital city Kampala were held in custody for over 50 days, following charges relating to the nation’s coronavirus isolation policies. The group were accused of participating in “a negligent act likely to spread infection of disease.”

A statement from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), who are bringing the fight to the courts, claims the group faced “taunting, flogging, scalding… as well as denial to access of food, sanitary facilities and medication.”

“There are 20 poor, homeless individuals, who are standing up to be counted for their rights that were violated,” Executive Director of HRAPF Adrian Jjuuko told media, “Acts of torture are not acceptable by our constitution.”

The group of 20 and the HRAPF are bringing the legal battle to attorney-general William Byaruhanga, Kitalya prison’s deputy officer Philimon Woniala and Mayor Hajji Abdul Kiyimba. The group has already seen a legal victory while still imprisoned, after the group was denied legal representation during the first 42 days of detention.

Homosexuality is still criminalised under Uganda’s laws, and the nation has a torrid history with LGBTIQ+ rights, perhaps most notably for the nation’s “Kill The Gays” legislation.

Originally introduced in 2014, the ‘Kill The Gays’ legislation was thwarted by a technicality in Uganda’s courts. Punishment for homosexual activity was then reduced to life imprisonment. Last year, Ethics & Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo tried to reintroduce the Bill.

“We have been talking to the MPs and we have mobilised them in big numbers” Lokodo claimed at the time, “Many are supportive.”

“Homosexuality is not natural to Ugandans, but there has been a massive recruitment by gay people in schools, and especially among the youth, where they are promoting the falsehood that people are born like that,” the Minister said on national television.

A spokesperson for President Yoweri Museveni denied Minister Lokodo’s claims after blowback from international advocates, media and leaders, claiming there were “no plans” to introduce such legislation.

OIP Staff

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