Uganda deports British gay play producer
12 February 2013, 15:50
Kampala - Uganda has deported a British theatre producer who
last year staged a play about homosexuality, which is illegal in Uganda, the
British High Commission said on Tuesday.
David Cecil was arrested in September on charges of
disobeying orders to cancel the staging of a play whose main character was a
gay man. He was briefly jailed before being granted bail.
In January a court dropped the charges for lack of proof.
"We have confirmation of deportation," High
Commission spokesperson Chris Ward told AFP.
"We are quite concerned that he has not had the
opportunity for due process under the Ugandan system," he added.
Cecil's partner Florence Kebirungi, who has two children
with him, said he was likely "already back in the UK."
She said he was taken on Monday evening from the police
station where he was being held to the capital's main airport, where he was put
on a flight for Britain.
"He called me from the airport, he didn't sound
OK," she said, adding that immigration officials told her that Cecil was
being deported because he was an "undesirable" person.
"It is a big surprise as we did not have a chance to
make a legal challenge," she told AFP.
Vociferous anti-gay lobby
The groundbreaking play "The River and The
Mountain" was performed at several venues around Kampala in August despite
an injunction by Uganda's government-run media council. It had issued a
temporary ban on the play pending review of the script.
The play examines the plight of a man coming out as a
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 promoting homosexuality - including by
rights groups - would be punished by up to seven years in jail.