Ram bar arrests: Drop all charges against LGBTIQ Ugandans

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Gay pride rally in Entebbe. File photo. Credit: The Observer / Internet

On ­ Sunday 10th November 2019, fully armed Uganda Peoples Defense Forces officials, Local Defense Unit officers from the Uganda Police Force raided an LGBTIQ friendly entertainment center known as Ram Bar after an alleged tip off that the bar’s revelers are suspected narcotic drug users.

(Statement in PDF)

In the presence of media, these armed forces brutally arrested 125 people and took them to Central Police Station where their holding charge was “public nuisance.”

“As soon as we got into Ram bar at around 11:30pm, we saw police swamp the place and ordered us to all sit down. Not knowing what we had done wrong, I asked and I got slapped for it. Later, we were all told to go on the patrol trucks and we were driven to Central Police Station (CPS) with no knowledge of what we had doneAt CPS, some of my friends were treated inhumanely just for asking the same question I was slapped for asking.” recounted Sonia, one of the suspects who has since been released without charge.

Since 2012, police has raided at least six LGBTI events, the most recent occurring on 17th May 2019 when police raided and shut down an event organized by Sexual Minorities Uganda and Chapter Four Uganda to celebrate International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).  By the time of this statement release, 70 remain in custody in Luzira prison as we await the State Attorney’s decision on whether or not to sanction their files. 53 people have been released and all charges against them dropped.

“I think the police is using the Sunday night illegal raid on RAM bar and the arrest of LGBTI patrons to try and divert the country from the police/Army’s brutal crackdown on the Makerere University protesters and journalists,” said Byarugaba Clare of Chapter Four Uganda.

Brutal attacks on LGBTIQ people have increased since the Minister of Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo announced plans to retable the Anti Homosexuality Bill on the 10th October 2019. This statement that was supported by Uganda’s Minister for Security General Elly Tumwine who said LGBTIQ people are terrorists and former Minister of Ethics and Integrity Nsaba Buturo who said he would seek leave to reintroduce the law has led to the documented abuse of the human rights of at least 150 LGBTIQ in 3 months alone. Among these are 4 murders, 16 arrests where victims were subjected to anal tests, one lesbian was beat up by a doctor and at 125 were brutally arrested on Monday between midnight and 1:00am. By contrast, the Ministry of the Presidency and the Ministry of Health recently called on LGBTIQ people to rely on security forces to defend and protect all Ugandans, including LGBTIQ communities. See their statements here and here

What good those statements now, when security forces are blatantly violating our human rights with impunity?” asked Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda.



  1. We call upon the security forces in Uganda to protect the human rights of LGBTIQ people in Uganda, consistent with the Ministry of the Presidency and the Minister of Health. We urge them to desist from trumping up charges against the community.
  2. We call upon the media to respectfully report about cases concerning the human rights of LGBTIQ people without bias or subjecting them to further risk by exposing their faces to the public and incriminating suspects before justice is served.
  3. We call upon our diplomatic partners to speak up and call out the government for perpetuating violence upon LGBTIQ people in Uganda.
  4. We call upon the government of Uganda to ensure security, protection and safety of all Ugandans regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity by investigating this raid by law enforcement and issuing a clear statement of facts.
  5. To the LGBTIQ community, we urge you to stay calm and vigilant and immediately report any violations to the relevant security agencies and local organizations.

For more details, please contact 

Dr. Frank Mugisha: frankmugisha@gmail.com  Tel: +256 772616062Clare Byarugaba: cbyarugaba@chapterfouruganda.org