Secret gay pride event held in Uganda after official event suppressed

Secret Pride celebration held in Uganda after cancellation of official event

Pride events have previously taken place in the country

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Activists in Uganda held a secret Pride celebration after the official event was cancelled for the second year in a row.

Pride Uganda was supposed to take place on August 16 but the location was surrounded by police and the decision was made by advocates to suspend the event for the protection of would-be attendees.

This led to activists running their own Pride event on Sunday (August 20). It was organised by Petter Wallenberg, who is the founder of Rainbow Riots, a Swedish Ugandan group which works with LGBT people in dangerous countries.

He told Washington Blade: “If we hadn’t managed to somehow get a triumphant ending to an otherwise very sad week, it would have left me feeling a bit traumatised

"We couldn’t let this week finish without reaching some kind of crescendo, some kind of triumphant conclusion.”

However security at the secret event had to be extremely tight. Matt Beard, the executive director of All Out, an LGBT group that partnered Pride Uganda, explained how the secret event worked.

"Nobody was told the address," he said. "All guests were picked up by a driver and taken to the venue. At the door, phones had to be given up to avoid anyone posting the location on social media.”

Beard made a statement on the official event, criticising Ugandan ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo for his "sudden change of heart" which was "a crass example of arbitrary, unaccountable power. The community here was devastated when the events had to be cancelled.”

He also said that Lokodo has threatened his group with arrests and physical harm against one of the movement's leaders. Beard added that Lokodo "has abused our very existence by stripping us of even the very basic of our rights."

Sexual Minorities Uganda also gave a statement on the cancellation of the official event and called it a “wicked stab in the back."