Uganda drops charges for LGBT+ youths after 49 days in jail
Ugandan prosecutors have dropped charges against 19 LGBT+ people who have been held in jail for 49 days.
Police charged them with ‘doing a neglect act likely to spread infection of disease’ under the country’s emergency COVID-19 laws.
But today they finally had a hearing at a Magistrate’s Court. And their lawyers learned the Director of Public Prosecutions was dropping the charges.
Weak and with signs of malaria and typhoid
The raid took place in Kyengera, Nsangi a town on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF), which serves LGBT+ young people, runs the shelter.
Neighbors taunted the residents and the authorities beat two of them after their arrest.
Initially, police arrested 23 people. However, they later released four. That left 13 gay men, two bisexual men and four transgender women still in prison.
Lawyers said police refused to let them speak with their clients. Moreover, the HIV positive members of the group didn’t have the medicines they need.
A previous bail hearing on 28 April didn’t go ahead at the last minute. The first young people’s lawyers didn’t know it wasn’t going to happen until the magistrate and prosecutors didn’t show up. That left the young people languishing in jail for another 20 days.
Patricia Kimera is a lawyer from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) who is representing the group.
She told Reuters she is worried about the health of some of the members of the group. They weak and some reported symptoms of malaria and typhoid.
Moreover, she also said it was only right that prosecutors have dropped the charges. While Uganda does prevent gatherings of more than 10 people, there are no restrictions on the number of people who can live together in a house.
‘Solely based on hate towards the LGBTQ community’
Human rights observers have said local Ugandan officials deliberately trumped up the charges to attack the LGBT+ community.
Edwin Sesange is director of the African Equality Foundation.
He told GSN: ‘We thank all those who have been involved in the litigation process. We pay our sympathy to the Ugandan LGBTQ community especially those who had to go through these illegal arrests, torture and detention by the government.
‘This case was solely based on hate towards the LGBTQ community not the quest for justice or the protection of the community.’
Moreover, he called on Uganda to drop its laws that punish homosexuality with jail and date from the British Empire:
‘Uganda is an independent country therefore it should stop relying on outdated colonial laws to persecute innocent LGBTQ Ugandans.’
Published on GayStarNews Read the original article
Author: Tris Reid-Smith