Since 2012, Uganda’s LGBT community has held an annual celebration with little incident. But following threats from the country’s minister of ethics, the pride parade slated for today (Aug. 6), has been postponed.
The cancellation has come only two days after a private LGBT pride event at a nightclub in Kampala was disrupted by policemen. The police claimed the event was a breach of a law requiring organizers to obtain permission to hold public meetings (organizers say they did, in fact, get permission for the event). Activists say some of those present were arrested and detained, but later released. In a statement obtained by Quartz, advocacy group Outright Action International say the police also “called in the media to take photos of everyone at the event without individual consent.”
After a meeting to discuss the police raid with Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s minister of ethics, Nick Opiyo, a local lawyer, emerged with a message of threats, rather than any assurances of safety.
“We decided to suspend it because of the risks to personal safety,” Opiyo said. “The minister threatened to mobilize a mob and a large police group to beat up anyone who shows up for pride tomorrow.”
Uganda’s LGBT community has long been a target of the government. In 2014, Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president, signed a controversial anti-gay law which criminalized same-sex relationships and ordered life imprisonment for offenders. While it was roundly criticized by foreign governments and groups, the law garnered considerable support locally and resulted in a tenfold increase in attacks against LGBT people. Despite being struck out by the Ugandan Supreme Court, the LGBT community has continued to face discrimination.
Beyonce Karungi, a trans activist who was arrested and later released at the pride event on Thursday, says the discrimination against the LGBT community in Uganda is plainly ignored by law enforcement. “When we report incidents of discrimination to the police, they do nothing,” she told Quartz. “They sometimes tell us we deserve it.”