Thursday, September 20, 2012

‘British artiste promoting homosexuality in Uganda’

The homosexual community in Uganda is crying foul over David Cecil’s arrest, saying it is part of the government’s blatant violation of the rights of homosexuals in Uganda. But members of the public The Observer sampled say the British producer and proprietor of Tilapia Cultural Centre is one of the many foreigners bent on promoting homosexuality in Uganda. “He deserves whatever punishment he gets,” said one man after hearing the David Cecil story. Cecil was released on bail on Monday. Last week, police arrested and charged him with disobeying lawful orders after he staged his play, The River and the Mountain in theatres in Kampala without clearance from the Media Council. The play is critical of the Uganda government and how it has handled homosexuality. Its main character is a young Ugandan businessman who loses his friends and is eventually murdered after revealing he is gay. According to information website Wikipedia, the dramatic comedy was to be staged at the National Theatre but had to relocate after the Media Council, on August 16, provisorily banned its performance in public. Officials accuse Cecil of disobeying the Media Council’s orders by staging performances in Kampala theatres last month. The chief magistrate’s court in Makindye granted him a cash bail of Shs 500,000 and Shs 1m non-cash for each of his three sureties. Cecil will appear again in court on October 8. Giles Muhame, former editor and founder of the defunct Rolling Stone newspaper, which, in 2010, lost a court battle to gay rights activists, said: “The law should take its course. Uganda has its own laws, which must be adhered to. Cecil is not above the law.” With the anti-homosexuality bill tabled by Ndora West MP, David Bahati, in 2009, Uganda has roundly been declared by the international community as homophobic — a label that has not prevented security agencies from barring gatherings of members of the homosexual community, or religious and political leaders from criticising the ‘homosexual agenda’ and its alleged promoters (the West and some NGOs). But critics of the bill say the charges against Cecil are a repression of freedom of expression reminiscent of the colonial era. “This is just a continuation of the intimidation that the government is determined to place on our work . . . It does not matter whether it is in the NGO world or the liberal arts,” said Clare Byarugaba, coordinator of the Uganda Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, an organisation whose members were threatened with a ban for promoting gay rights. While the Media Council insists that the play was obnoxious and painted Ugandan people as violent, Byarugaba says they are optimistic that Cecil will not be found guilty and will not have to face the two-year imprisonment that awaits him if court decides otherwise. “Before he staged the play, we (the coalition) advised him to get lawyers, because we knew the government’s reaction on anything to do with homosexuality,” Byarugaba said. “He sent the script to the Media Council and there was nothing in it to stop it from running. It was not pornographic or anything.” Wikipedia quotes the minister of Ethics, Rev Simon Lokodo, as saying the play “justified the promotion of homosexuality in Uganda.” He added: “We will put pressure on anyone who says this abomination is acceptable.” According to Wikipedia, Cecil is a Ugandan-British theatre producer and the controversial play was written by Beau Hopkins, a British writer in Kampala, directed by Angela Emurwon, and the cast is all-Ugandan.

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