Uganda police forces aren’t exactly known for being LGBTQ-friendly. This year, they shut down Uganda Pride, just like they did the year before. They use forced anal exams to “prove” people’s suspected homosexuality and LGBTQ event organizers often plan ways to keep police away from their events. So now that police in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala have announced upcoming LGBTQ sensitivity training for officers, it certainly raises a few eyebrows.
The training is set to occur today, Nov. 16, at the Tick Hotel Kawempe in the northern side of central Kampala. James Kusemererwa from the Kampala police headquarters sent a message to the Kampala Metropolitan Police and Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, requesting 40 police officers to attend the training.
The message says, “There will be a sensitisation workshop on minorities rights (LGBT). … The target group should include officers in charge of criminal investigations, stations and regional and community liaison offices. Officers who have never attended a workshop on the same should be selected.”
Some see this as the Ugandan police softening their stance against LGBT groups.
Police spokesman Emilian Kayima said that workshop is funded by police partners and that the training is “to teach our field officers to appreciate that minorities have rights that should be respected.” For example, he continued, “If an intersexual person is arrested, the officers should be able to know how to handle the suspect. The officers must be able to know whether to detain the suspect in male or woman’s cell.”
Kayima reportedly mentioned that the training session’s objectives “aren’t to promote homosexual practices,” a motive suspected by senior police officers who have criticized the meeting’s occurrence.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda. In 2014, the country’s president signed a law punishing “aggravated homosexuality” with life in prison. Though a court later invalidated the law on a technicality, LGBTQ Ugandans continue to report widespread discrimination, harassment and fear of being reported to the authorities just for their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Featured image via Uganda Police Force