Twenty LGBT-people arrested in Uganda for risking the spread of COVID-19

The Ugandan police are accusing twenty LGBT-people of ignoring the precautions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak. They did not abide by the rules regarding social distance and risked the spread of the coronavirus, according to the police. LGBT+-activists quickly criticized the incident, claiming that the police are taking advantage of the new precautions in order to arrest sexual minorities.
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The 14 gay men, two bisexual men and four transgender women were taken into custody when police raided their hideout on the outskirts of the capital Kampala. Deputy police spokesman Patrick Onyango denied the accusations made by LGBT+-activists, who claim that they were arrested because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The police spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that there are two charges against the group: disobedience of the legal order and the commission of negligent acts that could spread the infection of the virus. The two charges could result in two to seven years in prison. Although initially 23 people were arrested, three of them were released without charges due to medical reasons. The sentencing in court for the remaining twenty is scheduled to take place on April 29.  

“They are always using alternative charges to arrest people for unnatural offences so it (coronavirus) just worked perfectly for them,” said Patricia Kimera, a lawyer with Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, defending the group. “But definitely the reason they have been arrested is their sexual orientation.”

In Uganda, sex between people of the same sex is prohibited and can result in a life sentence. Uganda is one of the strictest countries in terms of LGBT-rights.

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