On New Year’s Eve, Joseph Kaweesi, LGBT youth worker and advocate, was arrested by Ugadan police and charged with crimes relating to homosexuality.
According to reports from Uganda, Kaweesi, one of the founder of the LGBT group Youth on Rock Foundation, is being held at Kawempe police station, in Kampala, capital of Uganda.
Frank Mugishu, of the Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) charity, confirmed that Kaweesi was arrested yesterday (31 December 2012) by police officers.
According to Mugishu he was charged with ‘carnal knowledge (homosexuality)’ and ‘recruiting youth into homosexuality’.
LGBT rights advocate Melanie Nathan told Gay Star News that she received information that attorneys have spoken with Kaweesi and that plans are being made to try and bail him.
Speaking with GSN Nathan, who is from South Africa but based in the USA, said: ‘it would seem to me that the police are preempting the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (also known as The Kill the Gays Bill) which has been introduced into this parliament and has yet to pass.
‘The arrest may be political as anti-gay catalysts for the Bill try and drum up more support for its passage.
‘Although there is an existing law which people can be charged under for “carnal knowledge or defilement,” there is currently no law that speaks to the so called “recruitment” of homosexuals.
‘While we all know such is impossible to do, the Ugandan AHB seeks to make the misnomer a crime.
‘If Kaweesi’s charges are pursued the facts may be difficult to prove and certainly the aspect of “recruitment” could be thrown out by a competent court of law’.
Earlier this week, the office of SMUG was broken into and vandalized, with much its equipment having being stolen.
Activists stated that the information stored on some of the computers, containing addresses and telephone numbers of LGBT Ugandans may now put them at risk.
Both male and female homosexual activity is illegal in Uganda – under its penal code ‘carnal knowledge against the order of nature’ between two males carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment.
According to a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, 96 percent of Ugandan residents believe that homosexuality is a way of life that society should not accept, making Uganda the fifth most homophobic state out of 45 countries surveyed.
In November 2012, the speaker of the parliament of Uganda promised to enact a revised anti-homosexuality bill, providing for harsher penalties against suspected LGBT people and anyone who fails to report them to authorities, including long-term imprisonment and the death penalty for what the law terms ‘repeat offenders’.
The bill is due to be put to the vote early this year when parliament reconvenes.