Armed police raided a queer film festival in Uganda and forced it to shut down. According to reports, an anonymous source tipped off Ugandan police about the location of the Queer Kampala International Film Festival, which happened to be a sold-out event.
According to Ugandan laws, homosexuality is illegal. One interesting aspect of this law is that, according to the statistical data taken in 2007, the LGBTQ community in Uganda already consisted of 500,000 people. Gay activists complain that they are forced to hide their sexual preferences, according to a BBC report.
Earlier in August, the government canceled gay pride celebrations. Simon Lokodo, the state minister of ethics and integrity, ordered the police to shut down the events. The Guardian reported that Lokodo said the government would not tolerate any kind of gay promotion in the country.
Meanwhile, the organizers of the QueerKIFF 2017 tried their best to keep the location of the event a secret. Basically, they were organizing the event at a warehouse.
The organizers earlier left a note for their supporters on Facebook that the people in Uganda had no way to celebrate the International Human Rights Day on December 10. According to the note, organizing the film festival was considered a “criminal activity” by the police.
Kamagoa Hassan, one of the people behind organizing the event, believes the film festival has been back-stabbed by another LGBTQ organization in the country. Hassan’s informants, however, managed to inform him prior to the raid. And the organizers had managed to help the attendees disperse before the police came.
The Gay Times reported that police officers were heavily armed when they raided the event. The QueerKIFF 2017 was immediately shut down. The organizers advised people against attending any event at a secret venue, as they believe the police had been tipped off by a fellow LGBTQ group.
According to Joaninne Nanyange, the police had hardly any idea about what was going on at the event. The deputy executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum believes the police’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community in Uganda has become more accepting over the years. That is why the raid is shocking, she said.