13th September 2007 17:46
The High Court of Uganda has over-ruled the objections of the country's Attorney General and allowed two lesbian activists who claim that police tortured them to have their case heard. In July 2005 the house of Victor Juliet Mukasa, of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was raided in the middle of the night by local government officials who seized documents and other material.Another lesbian activist, Yvonne Oyoo, a Kenyan student who was in Juliet's house on the night of the raid, was arrested and detained by local government officials and then taken to a police station. Ms Oyoo was subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment. She was arrested and taken to the police station where she was stripped, supposedly in order to confirm she was a woman, and fondled and sexually harassed by police officers."This was not only very humiliating and degrading, but also a gross violation of my human rights," Oyoo said in her affidavit. Their case will start on September 21st, ruled Justice Stella Arach-Amoko. They are claiming their rights have been violated and want compensation from the state.Advocates and opponents of LGBT rights were present in the High Court in Kampala yesterday. Last month gay rights activists in Uganda spoke out about the prejudice they face in the country.In a show of defiance and bravery, around 30 people gave a press conference, the first by LGBT activists, drawing attention to the state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia they face every day.Some of the activists wore masks for fear of being identified, while others shocked journalists by outlining the brutality they had faced at the hands of police.Ugandan law outlaws homosexuality as "against the order of nature."There has been rising tension in the country over gay and lesbian rights in Uganda.Last year thirteen alleged lesbians were outed by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper.There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last few years.