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Friday, September 14, 2012
BRITISH PRODUCER ARRESTED IN UGANDA OVER GAY PLAY
Uganda on Thursday arrested a British theatre producer for staging a play in Kampala about a gay man despite a temporary ban by the country's media authorities, a police spokesman said. Producer David Cecil was sent to prison until a bail hearing on Monday after being charged in a Kampala court, an AFP reporter said. "There are two charges preferred against him, one of disobeying lawful orders contrary to the penal code and another of staging the play which was still under review," Ibin Ssenkumbi, a spokesman for the Kampala police, told AFP. The groundbreaking play -- titled "The River and The Mountain" -- was performed at several venues around Kampala last month despite an injunction by Uganda's media council, the government media authority, which had placed a temporary ban on the play pending review of the script.
The play examines the plight of a man who comes out as homosexual and the motivations of Uganda's vociferous anti-gay lobby. Written by British playwright Beau Hopkins, it was directed and performed by Ugandans. Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda but proposed legislation currently before parliament would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts. Although legislators have said the bill could be changed, in its current form, anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, or engaging in gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV, would be sentenced to death. Public discussion of homosexuality -- including by rights groups -- would be punished by up to seven years in jail.