The Queer Kampala International Film Festival was cancelled over the weekend after Ugandan police were tipped off about its location.
The sold out LGBTQ event had taken measures to keep the location a secret, and even converted a warehouse into a cinema.
However, organiser Kamagoa Hassan believes the authorities were alerted to their whereabouts by a fellow Ugandan LGBTQ organisation.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, with a punishment of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality”.
Hassan was tipped off by his own informants, though, and had 30 minutes to want attendees of the police raids.
“The LGBT Film Festival in Uganda which started yesterday has been raided by the Uganda police,” they posted on Facebook.
“The organisers advice all our members not to go to any of the secret venues because it’s riskier at this time because the people who informed police about our secret venues are members of Ugandan LGBT organisations who don’t want the festival.”
When the police showed up to the event, they did so armed with guns and the festival was promptly shut down.
“We get the feeling… it’s people deliberately trying to sabotage the event,” Joaninne Nanyange, the deputy executive director of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) told GSN.
“When we called the police to find out what was going on, they had no idea what had happened.”
Nanyange explained that her organisation have been working with authorities in Uganda to help educate with LGBTQ issues in the country, in hopes that they will be more sensitive towards the community.
“The police have changed quite a bit,” she added. “That’s why we get shocked it’s still happening, we’ve tried to reach out to police and they’ve been very accepting but we don’t know what it is, we don’t know where that disconnect it is.
“Maybe we need to engage them more.”
Earlier this year, the opening event at Uganda Pride was cancelled last minute following growing pressure on the venue, the Sheraton Hotel, from the Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo.
After weeks of work having gone into organising the LGBTQ event, Lokodo decided to intimidate organisers by surrounding the venue with large numbers of police on the day it was due to start.
It came despite the Ugandan Pride team having previously liaised with Government authorities about the nature of the event with full transparency.
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