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Ugandan police charge 67 people with ‘causing a nuisance’ after harrowing raid on gay-friendly bar

Patrick Kelleher November 13, 2019
Uganda gay arrests

Dozens of Ugandans sit cross-legged, police patrolling around them, outside the RAM bar in the country's capital city after a police raid. (Twitter)

67 people have been charged with “causing a nuisance” by police in Uganda after they were found in a gay-friendly bar earlier this week.

Police reportedly arrested 127 people on Monday, 11 November, for “frequenting a smoking place” in RAM Bar – however, the bar also serves as an underground gay-friendly space for Ugandans.

The 67 who have been charged could face up to a year in prison if found guilty, a lawyer for the group Patricia Kimera said.

LGBT+ activist Raymond Karuhanga told Reuters that the arrests are “just a homophobic attack”.

“These were people in a club, not even on the streets,” he said. “They were having fun, listening to music. Then you arrest almost 130 and charge them with being a public nuisance… They just want to silence us as a community.”

Police in Uganda said they were unaware the bar is a gay friendly space and denied they are targeting gay people.

Police claimed that they were unaware that RAM Bar was known as a gay-friendly space and said people were being held under the Tobacco Control Act.

“We are not targeting them and we will not,” police spokesman Patrick Onyango said.

“What you heard in court are the charges (of common nuisance) that the state attorney proffered.”

They just want to silence us as a community.

Harrowing footage of the police raid that was posted online earlier this week showed terrified patrons cowering on the floor and hiding their faces with backpacks while police circled them.

Activists confirmed to PinkNews earlier this week that the raid took place at around 2am on Monday morning.

Ugandan minister claimed last month that they would try to reintroduce the infamous ‘Kill the Gays’ bill.

News of the arrests is particularly chilling for Uganda’s LGBT+ community following recent claims that the infamous ‘Kill the Gays’ bill – which would implement the death penalty for gay people – could be reintroduced.

Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo announced plans last month to re-table the bill, which was first floated several years ago but was not enacted.

However, a spokesperson for the president later denied that it would impose the death penalty for gay people, and said that the current punishment of life in prison “already handles issues of unnatural sexual behaviour”.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda.

More: Kampala, Kill the Gays, ram bar, Uganda

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