Police in Uganda have arrested 127 people for “smoking,” not coincidentally at a bar that caters to an LGBTQ crowd.
The raid happened around 2 am on Sunday night in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala. Patrons packed into RAM Bar, a disco located in the city’s business district which offers a rare refuge for queer Ugandans. The country has a reputation as one of the most violently homophobic nations on the planet.
Armed police and army units raided the bar in the early morning hours, herding bar patrons into the street, with many trying to hide their faces from potential photography. Law enforcement later claimed that the raid had been narcotics-related, and that police were unaware of any LGBTQ people in the establishment.
Of the 127 people arrested, two were later released with a full 125 due to appear in court this week. The raid on RAM Bar is just the latest in a systemic pattern of violence and discrimination against LGBTQ people in Uganda. This year has already seen an incident where a group of activists were attached with machetes and an angry mob had 16 people arrested in their place of work. The 16 suspects were later submitted to anal searches as part of their arrest. Non-vaginal sex remains illegal in the nation, and religious and government officials have suggested that the nation revive it’s now-defunct “Kill the Gays” laws, which would make anyone convicted of homosexual conduct subject to execution.
127 people suspected to be smoking banned substances were arrested last night in a Police raid on a bar on Hannington road. 2 released, 125 to appear in court today. LGBTQ community has called this an attack on their freedom, since a big number of them were arrested in the raid. pic.twitter.com/D6SbxwepDh
— #CanaryReports (@CanaryMugume) November 11, 2019