An unidentified policeman abruptly closed the Talented Ugandan Kuchus (TUK) album launch at the National Theatre in Kampala on November 7th, 2012. The man, calling himself a concerned citizen, ordered everyone out of the theatre an hour into the performance by TUK members. There were approximately 500 people in the audience from all walks of life including parents of some of the members of TUK. The production sought to promote tolerance among the community, access to health service, and celebrate diversity. TUK songs promote human rights, non-discrimination and health. This arbitrary closing of an LGBTI event confirms a pattern of behaviour by the authorities that LGBTI people will not be afforded equal protection as other citizens of this country. This incident occurred barely nine months after an LGBTI workshop was arbitrarily shut down by the Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity, Hon. Rev. Fr. Lokodo Simon and it also occurred a few days after the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament announced that she will bring back the anti-gay bill to a vote in less than 2 weeks.
This unidentified policeman announced on the loud speaker that everyone should leave before anything else happened to them. Later he moved to the auditorium with two uniformed policemen and another man who did not identify himself. All people were ordered out of the theatre and the doors were shut as some members of the LGBTI community remained inside the theatre to speak with the police. The discussion did not yield fruit as all lights were turned off and some members were pushed by the police out of the building.
TUK members were forced to leave the dressing rooms with their costumes and leave the props on stage. People were scared of being arrested by the police. While trying to get out of the gates of the National Theatre, one member of TUK was almost beaten up by a gang of boys who were standing outside the gate. One member of the LGBTI community was slapped by the police officer.
The National Theatre management has failed to give TUK a concrete reason why the production was stopped. The National Theatre Public Relations officer informed us that the matter had been referred to the Media Council and the Uganda National Cultural Centre. They will determine whether the theatre production is approved.
This clearly indicates that the National Theatre management is trying to avoid responsibility over the incident since they watched the production and approved it before it launched at their Theatre.
TUK and the entire LGBTI community call on the Ugandan authorities to end their harassment of LGBTI people and to uphold the values of the Constitution that calls for equal rights for all Ugandans.
We hope TUK receives clearance from the Media Council and the Uganda National Cultural Centre, since this production is extremely educational and entertaining.
We shall inform you of a future date, when the production will be re-staged. We appreciate and thank everyone who turned up to support our album launch
For more information, please contact:
Executive Director TUK
Productions Manager TUK
Executive Director, Sexual Minorities Uganda – SMUG
+256 772 616062