British producer David Cecil was released on bail from a Ugandan jail yesterday where he was awaiting trial for staging the country’s first play dealing with homosexuality. Cecil is charged with promoting homosexuality and could still face up to two years in prison.
Cecil and his attorney are no longer granting interviews to the Ugandan press over fears that he will be vilified. The East African nation’s press has a history of publicly outing homosexuals and inciting violence towards them, as in the case of activist David Kato.
Cecil, who has lived in Uganda for three years with his girlfriend and two kids, has deferred all other media inquiries to his attorney and others familiar with his legal situation, such as Ugandan civil rights attorney Godwin Buwa.
“His case is becoming quite delicate in the public and the authorities will see him as a promoter of homosexuality in Uganda, which of course is a ridiculous thought,” Buwa told ABC News.
Cecil was arrested on Thursday and charged with “disobedience of lawful orders,” after he staged the play, The River and the Mountain, against orders from the Uganda Media Council. Those orders came only a day before the show’s first performance, by the bye.
According to court documents obtained by the Ugandan Daily Monitor, the Media Council found the play to be “obnoxious” with “violence towards persons of homosexual behavior and indeed implicitly promotes a deification of such persons.”
Uganda’s ethics and integrity minister, Simon Lukodo, may also pursue legal action against the Ugandan actors in the play. As for Cecil, he’s expected to return to court on October 18.
The producer has maintained that he is not a gay activist, but rather wanted to open a dialogue about a rarely-discussed topic, although that argument might not hold up in court. “Being a foreigner, the whole thing about homosexuality being seen as a foreign practice being pushed on Uganda,” Buwa said, “he may be looked as an agent of Western influence bringing homosexuality to Uganda.