Ugandan police raid ‘same-sex wedding’ and arrest 44 guests. They’ll be charged with spreading ‘infectious disease’

LGBT+ people arrested in Uganda

Police in Uganda have arrested 44 people who attended a “same-sex wedding”, insisting they were spreading “infectious disease”, but activists say it was simply a “peaceful gathering”.

According to NaijaNews, authorities in Nansana Municipality, Uganda, raided the event in area’s Ochen ward last week. 

On Monday (31 May), Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said that the force had received a tip-off about a group of men, “suspected to be homosexuals”, who were conducting a same-sex wedding.

He said: “At the same function, gifts were recovered, these included suitcases, a TV, assorted gifts like sugar, salt, pineapples and many other gifts normally given at traditional functions.”

Owoyesigyire said that guests were not abiding be COVID-19 restrictions like mask-wearing and social distancing, and the police had found condoms at the event.

Criminal Investigations Divisions spokesperson Charles Twine added that the 44 LGBT+ people arrested would be charged over a “negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease”. He did not specify whether this meant COVID-19, or another disease.

Despite police insistence that they had raided a wedding, the newly-formed LGBT+ rights organisation Pride Uganda said it had hosted the event, which it simply described as a “peaceful gathering”.

The group wrote on Twitter: “Several days ago, we hosted a peaceful gathering – yet, the police were informed and wrongfully detained members of our community with many still awaiting bail.

“With Pride Month 2021 upon us, the time is now to rise up against such violent persecution.”

Uganda criminalises same-sex sexual relations, which the UN has said raises “serious human rights concerns”.

While sex between men has long been illegal in the country, the new Sexual Offences Bill, passed by parliament last month, takes this a step further by categorising all same-sex acts as “unnatural offences” alongside bestiality.

Violence and raids against the LGBT+ community are frequent. In 2019, 16 people were arrested on suspicion of gay sex, in 2020 authorities targeted a homeless shelter, arresting and torturing 20 queer youth under the guise of COVID-related charges.