Ugandan LGBT+ Youth Win Damages Over Police Violations

Following the raid of an LGBT+ homeless shelter in Uganda in April resulting in 19 gay men and trans women being jailed for 49 days, damages have been awarded for police violating their rights.

The people ranging in age from 19 to 32 have each been awarded damages of UGX 5,000,000 (about USD 1,140) by the High Court of Uganda.

The court ruled that the individuals were deprived of their rights to a fair hearing and liberty.

The authorities claimed that the raid was due to the individuals illegally gathering under the country’s coronavirus lockdown regulations but activists and their lawyers said this was an excuse to target LGBT+ people.

The court found declared the right to a fair hearing could not be waived even during the Covid-19 crisis since the right is “inalienable whatever the circumstances.”

The court further ruled that denying the accused access to their lawyers for 40 days was “unreasonable and unjustifiable.”

The Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) and Children of the Sun Foundation (COSF), which ran the homeless shelter, welcomed the decision.

“We applaud the Court for standing with us during this difficult period,” said Henry Mukiibi, the Executive Director of COSF and one of those arrested.

Under colonial-era legislation criminalising gay sex in Uganda, those found guilty of homosexuality can face life in prison.

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