“It was a peaceful beauty pageant — well organised until the police stormed the venue. This is a shame. The event took place in a licensed bar and everyone was well behaved, having the fun of our lives. I have never seen this level of humiliation and infringement of people’s rights.”
That was the response of the Rev. Jide Macauley to a police raid yesterday that shut down the Mr. and Miss Pride beauty pageant during Uganda’s Pride 2016. Macauley, a gay activist Anglo-Nigerian pastor, is this year’s grand marshal for Pride.
He further stated:
I am very distressed for the LGBTIQ people of Uganda, I am humbled and honoured to be the Grand Marshal for the Pride and to have witness these abuses.
At about 11pm local time in Kampala, the police stormed the venue. The pageant show was active and the atmosphere was beautiful and electric. When the police arrived, the music was still on. I thought there was a disturbance as they led people away. Those first arrested were most of the contestants in the beauty pageant, mostly transgender people for whom the event I believe meant so much.
There was a mixed crowd of people from Burundi, Congo, UK, Germany, USA, etc. I believe there were nearly 300 people at the event. It was a cheerful, exciting and happy celebration — before the raid. I could not tell you the exact number of people arrested but it must be more than 20 people as I was asking after people, many of the leading activists and my friends. Many arrested attended pride event for the first time and you could see the terror and fear on people’s faces.
The crowd were ushered into a narrow space. At first I thought we were being asked to leave the building but the police held us in captivity for nearly two hours. I recorded some of the chaos on audio as police shouted at people using their mobile phones. It was a terrifying moment for everyone. We were forced to sit on the floor and several of the police officers in uniform used their mobile phone cameras to take photographs, forcing people to look up, A few who became distressed were crying and throwing themselves on the floor. Two people jumped from the fourth floor to lower levels, at the time I understood there was a fatality but we are still trying to establish the extend of injuries if any.
I was not arrested, as one of the organisers personally handed me in to the safety of one of their security volunteers and asked me to follow their instructions. More than a dozen were physically injured but I strongly believe many more were scared.
My message to the LGBTIQ community: I believe there is a need to review the rest of the events this week for safety. I say be strong and don’t give up.
My message to Uganda Police: Respect the LGBTIQ community. These people are the most loving people. I am humbled to be here amongst them. I am humbled to experience first-hand the irrational fear that LGBTIQ people live with on a daily basis, the fear of arrest and humiliation.
I also believe the world needs to take more seriously the problems of oppression such as homophobia, transphobia if we are to make any progress on human rights.
The police simply came to cause mayhem and this should not be happening in the 21st century.
- Breaking news: Police lockdown at Ugandan pride event (Aug. 4, 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Police Raid Uganda Pride During Transgender Pageant (Aug. 4, 2016, BuzzFeed)
- Ugandan police arrest Pride celebration participants (Aug. 4, 2016, Washington Blade)
- Breaking Uganda Pride Participants Detained in Police Raid (Aug. 4, 2016, O-blog-dee)