Briton held before trial over gay play in Uganda
The British producer of a play about being gay in Uganda is in jail pending his trial on charges that he had the work performed without official authorisation.
David Cecil appeared in court yesterday charged with “disobeying lawful orders” from the Uganda Media Council, which says he staged The River and the Mountain in Uganda’s capital last month despite orders not to.
Cecil’s lawyer, Francis Onyango, said his client was not released on bail because police had confiscated his passport, wanted by the magistrate.
Cecil said the play, whose main character is a gay businessman who finally gets killed by his own employees, was performed eight times at little-known theatres in Kampala last month. The play, a first for Uganda, was praised by gay rights activists who said it was “revolutionary” in the way it provoked an examination of common thinking about gays. But the play failed to make it to Uganda’s national theatre, where producers rejected the script.
Homosexuals are highly stigmatised in Uganda, where in 2010 an MP with the ruling party introduced a bill proposing the death penalty for what he called “aggravated homosexuality”. The bill, now in committee stages, has been condemned by some world leaders.
Cecil, who faces two years in jail if convicted, said he was singled out because he had become the play’s “public face”.
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