Barely weeks after authorities in Uganda dispelled rumours that the country was to impose the death penalty for gay sex, police have detained over a dozen men on suspicion of engaging in the illegal act.
Ugandan police have detained 16 men on suspicion of homosexuality and human trafficking, a rights group said Thursday.
The arrests took place in a neighborhood just outside the capital, Kampala, on Monday as the men were being hosted by another rights group, said Diane Bakuraira of Sexual Minorities Uganda, the country’s most prominent LGBT rights group.
A police officer confirmed the arrests, saying the men were detained following a “complaint from the public.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.
Activists say attacks against LGBT people are increasing amid efforts by Uganda’s ethics minister, Simon Lokodo, to introduce a bill that would punish gay sex with death. Uganda’s penal code currently punishes sex acts “against the order of nature” with up to life in prison.
Lokodo this month said lawmakers were being mobilized to show strong support for an anti-gay bill when it is introduced in the national assembly. The bill would punish activities including the “exhibition” of homosexuality, he said.
The government spokesman denies such a plan exists.
Lokodo has long called for the introduction of tough new legislation after a panel of judges nullified an anti-gay law enacted by President Yoweri Museveni in 2014 amid international condemnation.