Ugandan LGBT+ activists to ‘stand prouder’ despite brutal police raid on Pride pageant

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LGBT+ activists in Uganda have vowed to stand taller despite a brutal police raid on a Pride event yesterday.

Dozens of activists were released without charge after a Ugandan police raid on a Pride event – leaving one activist fighting for their life.

Last night, Ugandan police raided the ‘Mr & Miss Pride Uganda’ LGBT event inside the Venom nightclub in Kampala.

Ugandan LGBT+ activists to ‘stand prouder’ despite brutal police raid on Pride pageant

Small Pride events have popped up in Uganda in recent years despite fierce persecution

More than 20 people were arrested including prominent Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha, with officers claiming to have received a tip-off about a gay wedding.

Police are facing allegations of brutality as trans women say they had their female clothing and braids torn off, while there are also reports of violent conduct.

According to some reports one activist who jumped from a window to escape the raid has now died in hospital.

All the arrestees have now been released without charge.

Pepe Julian Onziema, a trans activist who was arrested, tweeted this morning: “Woke up PROUDER!! I know who I am”.

Raymond Nsubuga, director of Equality Heals Africa, told the Advocate: ““Ugandan police forcefully took photos of people’s faces, forced us to delete our recordings, journalists’ cameras were being confiscated, we were intimated, bullied. Our trans sisters faced body violations as police people touched their breasts and butts apparently determining if they are men or women! It was so painful watching some of our contestants struggling to un-plait their hair, trying to undress their high heels and removing makeup!”

Dr Frank Mugisha said: “Any force by Ugandan police targeting a peaceful and lawful assembly is outrageous. The LGBTI community stands with all Ugandan civil society movements against police brutality.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “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.

“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.”

Adamantly homophobic Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni remained in office for a fifth term, as he won a general election earlier this year, amid accusations of corruption.

President Museveni signed the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in February 2014. The law called for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and to make it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

However, the country’s Constitutional Court later struck down the bill, finding that the speaker of parliament acted illegally by moving ahead with a vote on the law despite at least three lawmakers objecting to a lack of quorum.

Despite this, it still remains illegal to be gay in Uganda.

Uganda later passed a controversial new law, that could result in the closure of NGOs helping the country’s LGBT population.

The country’s parliament passed the controversial Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) bill, in a late-night sitting.

Museveni has previously claimed that Uganda is a “better destination” for tourists than Spain, that “Uganda is so rich, we should be the ones to give aid”, and that oral sex is a Western invention that is “more terrible” than homosexuality.

This year an LGBT+ rights organisations shared photographs of men who broke into its offices and killed a security guard.

Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum Uganda (HRAPF) was broken into in May and a security guard was killed as its offices were ransacked.