The Queer Kampala International Film Festival was brought to an abrupt end on 9 December 2017 after three policemen raided the festival venue in Ugandan capital Kampala, forced festivalgoers out of the venue and accused the organisers of promoting pornography and encouraging homosexuality, festival director Kamoga Hassan told Freemuse.
Hassan said that police intimidated him and the rest of the organisers, who were tipped off about the raid by human rights group Chapter Four Uganda, which was one of the supporters of the event. The group has been engaged with police forces to sensitize them on the rights of people in the LGBT community. When the group later contacted police about the raid and forced shut down, authorities denied any knowledge of the incident.
Festival organisers told Freemuse that Ugandan authorities’ rhetoric of human rights protection of all citizens irrespective of gender, sexual orientation and religion is not in tune with their actions.
“Since the failure of the anti-same sex legislation passing in 2014, due to pressure from the international community, there have been actions – and inactions – by authorities that promote hate and homophobic sentiments which might instigate the masses to take the law into their own hands,” Hassan said.
In August 2014, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the Anti-Homosexuality bill invalid as it was not passed with the required quorum.
While Article 21.2 of the Constitution of Uganda guarantees that “a person shall not be unfairly treated on grounds of sex, race, colour, tribe, birth, belief, religion, social or economic standing, political opinion or disability of any kind”, sexuality and sexual orientation are not specifically listed. Article 31.2, however, specifically states that “marriage between persons of the same sex is prohibited (not allowed)”.
Though no one was physically injured or arrested due to the raid, Hassan said no one could guarantee that arrests, prosecution or harm would not happen in the future to those involved in or attending the festival.
The festival was originally scheduled to run 8-10 December 2017.