First Uganda gay pride a success despite police raid

Uganda held a historic weekend long gay pride which turned out a success despite a police raid, widespread homophobia and anti-gay laws 

First Uganda gay pride a success despite police raid
06 August 2012

Uganda’s LGBT community was able to conduct a weekend of gay pride events despite police arrests and harassment.

The historic LGBT pride was a series of events held at Entebbe starting with a party and including a beach parade, more parties and a small film festival.

The event was well attended, despite the fact that in Uganda gay people face life imprisonment according to law and widespread homophobia from the public.

On Saturday (4 August) police raided pride and reportedly detained activists who were taken by van to the police station but later released without charges being filed.

Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson, who was honored as the grand marshal of the event, stated: ‘The march, dubbed Uganda Beach Pride, was held on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens on the banks of the majestic Lake Victoria.

‘Many parents even brought their kids over to hear the music and listen to the few speeches and share in the jubilant atmosphere. The pride organizers even shared food and drinks freely with the onlookers.

‘There was a wonderful party atmosphere and apparently one of the beach goers complained to the police that we were conducting a gay wedding.

‘…As a result, I got my first ride in the back of a police van!

‘After a very confusing and utterly disgraceful performance at the station by the police (including the officers insisting we all sit on the bare floor until we were processed, one officer pushing a young female to the floor and another verbally abusing the 60-year-old female anthropologist from Makerere University) we were all released without charges or an explanation.’

Ugandan LGBT activist Frank Mugisha was also arrested posting on Facebook ‘right now detained at Entebbe police but we won’t give up’.

After the detainees were released without charges pride events continued uninterrupted.

Tomilson also stated: ‘I commend the excellent team of Frank [Mugisha] and Kasha for pulling off a brave event against all odds. This first-hand exposure to the Ugandan police system gives me even greater respect for the tremendous work these guys do under seemingly impossible odds.’

Mugisha, also commented on the weekend long event: ‘We did not have a chance to thank the pride organizers, the entire committee and the grand marshal. Thumbs up to you all who made this happen. Next time we begin the march from the police station.’

Pictures from Uganda’s first and historic gay pride can be viewed here (from the Facebook group):

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