On Sep 27, 2016 Public Radio International reported: More than a dozen armed police officers shut down Uganda’s fifth annual gay pride celebration on Saturday — the second major government crackdown on the gay community since August.
Yet, gay rights activists said the raid at a private beach resort outside Kampala marked one of the most important moments in their careers.
“In the 19 years I’ve been doing this work, today is the day I’m most proud of,” said Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a Ugandan activist.
Uganda is one of at least 34 African countries where homosexuality is illegal, with mandatory sentences of life in prison for anyone engaging in sexual intercourse “against the order of nature.”
Saturday marked the second attempt by gay rights activists to hold the annual gay pride event; police forcibly shut down the original celebration in August. They were accused of beating, groping and fondling participants at that event, and they arrested several prominent gay rights activists, including Nabagesera.
Kasha Nabagesera watches as police disperse a crowd of people attending this year’s gay pride celebration. “People who have come here today are very determined. Whether we had permission to be here or not, we were going to do the same thing,” she said. Credit: Katie G. Nelson
Still, activists were determined to try again, even if it meant risking jail time.
“I just wanted to feel myself, to enjoy my life and be free,” said Mart Jason while en route to Saturday’s celebration at a beach resort in Entebbe. “What I can say is this: These Ugandan police are nothing because we have the power, we have the strength and we have the security.”
But less than half an hour into the second attempt at Pride Uganda 2016, two trucks carrying armed police officers arrived on the scene. Officers quickly shut down the event, forcing about 100 attendees to abandon their volleyball games and half-eaten picnics and return to Kampala.