KAMPALA, Uganda — Police in Uganda on Monday arrested an LGBT youth counselor under laws which prohibit unnatural carnal acts — a definition which is widely understood to include homosexuality and “recruiting youth into homosexuality.”
Joseph Kaweesi, executive director and co-founder of the Kampala-based LGBT group “Youth on Rock Foundation,” was taken in custody Monday afternoon and was being held at the Kawempe police station.
LGBTQ equality activists are pointing out that while current Ugandan law calls for criminal penalization of homosexual acts, including “carnal knowledge or defilement,” there are no statues addressing “recruitment” of homosexuals.
Prominent South African civil rights attorney and journalist Melanie Nathan called Kaweesi’s arrest a preemptive strikeprior to passage of the pending anti-homosexuality bill — dubbed the “Kill The Gays” bill — which was introduced into the Ugandan Parliament, but has yet to pass.
“The arrest may be political as anti-gay catalysts for the Bill try and drum up more support for its passage. Although there is an existing law which people can be charged under for “carnal knowledge or defilement,” there is currently no law that speaks to the so called “recruitment” of homosexuals. While we all know such is impossible to do, the Ugandan AHB seeks to make the misnomer a crime.
If Kaweesi’s charges are pursued the facts may be difficult to prove and certainly the aspect of “recruitment” could be thrown out by a competent court of law.”
Both male and female homosexual activity is illegal in Uganda – under its penal code “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” between two males carries a potential penalty of life imprisonment.
In November , Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, promised passage of a revised anti-homosexuality bill, providing for harsher penalties against suspected LGBT people and anyone who fails to report them to authorities, including long-term imprisonment and the death penalty for what the law terms “repeat offenders.”
The bill is due to be put to a vote when Parliament reconvenes in its next session, sometime later this month.