UPDATE: Owner of Tilapia Bar in Kampala Arrested for showing “gay themed play” The River and The Mountain

UPDATE:  This from Kampala – Confirmation that Mr. Cecil was arraigned for showing “gay” play.  From Clare Byarugaba:

Hi all,
This is just to inform you that David Cecil, the producer of the play “The River and the Mountain” was arraigned before the Makindye Chief Magistrates court this after noon charged with two counts of disobedience of lawful orders for having staged the play at Tilapia Cultural Center and at MishMash. He was represented by Counsel Onyango and pleaded not guilty.

Counsel made a bail application for him but this was denied because the accused’s passport was still with the police and the court required it to be deposited in Court. There were three sureties in court including the accused’s girl friend,Abdallah (long Jones) and I.

I did not have a letter from my LC confirming my residence at the time. The state objected to the application on the basis that the accused’s passport was not in Court and that I had no LC letter confirming my residence. Court remanded the accused to Prison till Monday 17th September 2012 and ordered that I furnish my LC letter confirming my residence within two days and the accused’s passport be brought to court by the next sitting.

By the time I left court, Counsel Onyango was in the process of securing a production warrant to have the accused brought to Court tomorrow for the bail application to be continued. He promised to get back to me on the progress. That is where things are at.

– Godwin Buwa, Lawyer for Refugee Law Project Kampala Uganda

Original Post:

On the heels of a story posted yesterday about a transwoman being beaten in Kampala, David Cecil was arrested today for hosting the play “The River and The Mountain” a his Tilapia Bar.  The cause for his arrest was showing a “gay themed play” in Uganda.

This from a report on the play being shut down last month from The Guardian:

The River and the Mountain, which tells the story of a young businessman coming to terms with being gay in a climate of homophobia, was due to be performed at the National Theatre of Uganda last week before regulators intervened. Some shows went ahead at two smaller venues, but the National Theatre refused to stage the scheduled performances.

“We are all disappointed but not surprised that we could not perform at the National Theatre,” said the actor Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, who plays the gay character at the centre of the story. “What is surprising is the fact that we have received no clear reason. No one is taking responsibility for this decision.”

He said the play was not intended to promote a specific agenda, but rather to add to public debate. “We’re actors, not activists,” he said. “The play is there to inspire discussion in the community and to get a reaction from people. We want it to open up a dialogue.”

Uganda has a reputation as a deeply homophobic society, largely based on the anti-homosexuality bill introduced to parliament in October 2009.The bill, which has not yet been voted on, proposes severe penalties, including death, for those found guilty of having same-sex relationships. In January 2011 the gay rights activist David Kato was murdered shortly after a local newspaper published images of him and other gay people under a headline urging readers: “Hang them.”

The River and the Mountain has provoked controversy not only for its sympathetic portrayal of gay people, but also because it suggests that much of the anger and hatred has been whipped up by politicians and religious leaders for their own purposes.

Its British playwright, Beau Hopkins, said he had hoped the play would promote discussion about homosexuality. “The aim of the play was for it to be discussed by those who saw it and in the local media,” Hopkins said. “The local media seem to have agreed not to talk about it, which is disappointing. We’re also particularly disappointed that it won’t be staged at the National Theatre, as there it would have reached more Ugandans.”

Another bar has shown the play and it is confirmed he has been questioned by the Kampala police.

Mr. Cecil is Ugandan and the other bar owner is not.  That is perhaps the reason Cecil was arrested – easier to arrest/harass a Ugandan than an ex-pat from a Western country  I am posting on my way home.  Will post more as I learn more.


Correction:  Cecil is a British National

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