British man jailed for producing Uganda gay play

Media Council banned the play after saying it was 'contrary to the laws, cultural norms and values of Uganda'

British man jailed for producing Uganda gay play
14 September 2012

A British man who produced a play about being gay in Uganda is in jail.

David Cecil is being charged with ‘disobeying lawful orders’ from the Uganda Media Council, which says he staged the play in Uganda’s capital Kampala last month, reports the Associated Foreign Press. 

Cecil’s lawyer, Francis Onyango, said his client was not released on bail because his passport, wanted by the magistrate, had been confiscated by the police.

The play, ‘The River and the Mountain’, whose main character is a gay businessman who is killed by his own employees, was performed eight times in small theatres.

A first for Uganda, it was praised by gay rights activists who said it was ‘revolutionary’.

The Media Council banned the play after the performances on 29 August, saying sections ‘implicitly promote homosexual acts’ which are ‘contrary to the laws, cultural norms and values of Uganda.’

Cecil said he went with staging the play because the Media Council’s initial warning letter made no reference to any legal consequences.

‘I really didn’t mean to insult anyone, and I am not a rights advocate. I only wanted to open up dialogue,’ he said.

Cecil, who faces two years in jail if convicted, said he was singled out for legal action because he had become the play’s public face.

The play was written by a British student, Beau Hopkins, who also faces imprisonment.

Cecil said he felt he had ‘fallen into the trap’ of the local powers who gladly seize any chance to tell locals the abomination of homosexuality is being ‘imported’ by westerners.

‘This is ironic because it is exactly the theme of our play,’ he said. ‘This, again ironically, shows that our play contains some kind of truth.’

Male and female homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, and Catholic bishops are calling for a revival of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which proposes for the execution of gays in the African country.

UPDATE: Speaking to Gay Star News, a spokesman for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed the arrest. He could only reassure worried friends and relatives they are providing consular assistance, which may include replacing Cecil’s confiscated passport.

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