Ugandan police are in the spotlight, after they broke up a gay pride fashion show and arrested about 20 attendees in Kampala Thursday, NBC News reports.
According to Frank Mugisha, one of the event organizers, the police raided the fashion show, rounded up attendees, and drove them to a police station for interrogation.
They were later released without charges, but some claim to have been slapped and pushed around by the officers. One man reportedly injured himself as he attempted to flee the nightclub by jumping to safety, Mugisha added.
Among those arrested were Ugandan gay rights activists who later condemned the arrests.
“It was a terrible experience to see what people went through, to see what police were doing. It was very disturbing. I am trying to remain strong,” said Clare Byarugaba, an LGBTQ activist.
Ugandan police spokesman Patrick Onyango later confirmed the arrests but declined to give further details on the incident, according to Yahoo.
Last week’s incident highlights the discrimination that homosexuals in Uganda face.
Since the passing of a controversial anti-gay law by the Ugandan parliament in 2014, members of the LGBT community in the East African nation have faced widespread condemnation and attacks by both security agents and civilians.
The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2014 prohibits homosexuality and prescribes the death penalty for such acts. Some members of the national assembly in Uganda said the bill was designed to protect Ugandan society from disgraceful behaviors imported from the West.
While introducing the bill in parliament, Ugandan MP David Bahati said the bill was aimed at “strengthening the nation’s capacity to deal with emerging internal and external threats to the traditional heterosexual family.”
Human rights watch groups in Uganda say members of the LGBT community in Uganda face regular discrimination, violence, and extortion by the police.
“We call on governments and UN bodies to immediately and publicly condemn this brutal raid and call on governments to take swift disciplinary action against those responsible for these gross violations of rights and freedoms,” U.S.-based AIDS advocacy group, Health GAP, said in a statement.