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Thursday 23 October  
David Cecil, British producer of 'The River and the Mountain'
Kampala, Uganda
Kampala, Uganda

Producer of Uganda's first gay play could be jailed

Published on : 8 September 2012 - 5:41pm | By RNW Africa Desk (Photo: Mark Schenkel)
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Update 13 February 2013

This article, originally published by RNW in September, describes the charges Ugandan authorities pressed on David Cecil, the UK playwright who was deported from Uganda on Tuesday, 12 February. The Independent reports that Cecil “was thrown out of the country late on Monday night and landed back in Britain [Tuesday]. His Ugandan partner, with whom he has two children, said the family was given no warning of his deportation”.

The British producer of the first-ever theatrical play about homosexuality in Uganda is facing legal consequences. David Cecil risks a two-year jail term in the East African country, Radio Netherlands Worldwide has learned.

By Mark Schenkel, Kampala

Cecil helped produce ‘The River and the Mountain’, a play that was intended to further dialogue about homosexuality and homosexual acts, the latter of which are illegal in Uganda and frequently draw condemnation from church pastors and politicians.

‘The River and the Mountain’ ran from 17 to 23 August in a small cultural centre in Kampala managed by Cecil and his girlfriend.

On 6 September, Cecil was charged for ignoring an advance warning from the Uganda Media Council that the play was not to be staged until official “clearance” was obtained. The warning was issued on 16 August, the day before the play premiered. On 29 August, after the showings had ended, the Media Council ruled that the play was not to be staged because parts of the production “implicitly promote homosexual acts”, which “are contrary to the laws, cultural norms and values of Uganda”.

Cecil says he and British playwright Beau Hopkins, together with Ugandan director Angella Emurwon and the Ugandan actors, decided to go ahead with the staging because the Media Council’s initial warning letter “in no way” made reference to any potential legal consequences. Cecil says: “Even my Ugandan lawyer read the letter and said: ‘It does not clearly constitute a legal order’.”

Charged for defying authority
But as it went, Cecil was contacted by the police and subsequently charged for disobeying an order from a public authority – the Media Council. After reviewing the charges, authorities will decide whether or not to bring the 34-year-old producer before court. It is unclear when the decision will take place.

In the meantime, Cecil, who has been living in Uganda for three years, has had to hand over his passport. A police bond has been issued for him.

Related content

“Wanted to open up dialogue”
Cecil says that if the initial warning had been clearer, he may have decided not to stage the play. “I really didn’t mean to insult anyone, and I am not a rights advocate. I only wanted to open up dialogue,” he says.

He admits to feeling like he has “fallen into the trap” of local powers that gladly seize any chance to present homosexuality as an abomination that is being “imported” by Westerners like himself. “This is ironic because it is exactly the theme of our play,” Cecil says. “This, again ironically, shows that our play contains some kind of truth.”

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johnnyboy 10 September 2012 - 1:38pm


You repeat what every other homophobe keeps yapping on about.

First of all, 'biblically' . . . . why should everyone adhere to YOUR religion? Isn't there freedom of religion in Uganda? Yes, there is.
Im not a christian, so your 'bible' argument is without any value.

Secondly, no-one is 'forcing' anything onto anyone.
Please provide an example of where homosexuality was FORCED onto people.
Its okay . . . . I'll wait.
It is simply asked that people be allowed to live their life without fear of being attacked or hurt in his/her belief.
People are BORN gay. Its not a sin. Its not a disease. It is simply natural. Homophobia, is not natural. Do a bit of research.

"Unfortunately vulnerable children in schools have been targeted"
Same old crap. Im still waiting for examples of this happening as well.

On your own time . . . .

Junior Mayema 9 September 2012 - 10:33pm / South Africa

i wonder why African , think that being gay is a western influence while , there is an LGBTI community in Africa, and of course i am one of them , i am a gay asylum seeker from DRCongo living in south africa because of homophobia in my country of origin

sn 9 September 2012 - 3:33pm / Uganda

Uganda community does not accept homosexuality, from beginning of time till now and for the foreseeable future. No secret about this. It is foolhardy for anyone to try any roundabout methods to promote the vice in a community where it is not accepted. Time and again, leaders, both political and religious, have made clear the nation's stand. It is the one issue on which there is unanimous ans collective agreement. Anyone wise enough should read the mood. There is no value in accepting wrong things because Europeans do. Trying any methods to force homosexuality on us will fail. Unfortunately vulnerable children in schools have been targeted. The vice is biblically and traditional wrong. Even if few weak characters may fall for it it should remain like prostitution which is not publically accepted but practiced. Like many have stated while it is difficult to dictate what two adults do in the privacy of their bedroom, that is where it should stop. Soon or later such lost chahacters rediscover themselves and return to the mainstream without much ado. Anyone openly promoting the vice deserves to be punished according to the law of the land, and even ignorance of the law has never been a defence.

Anonymous 12 September 2012 - 9:26pm / poland

you are wrong. homosexuality was, is and will be normal orientation and it doesn't need promotion. it exsist and it's fact. it's not european or african thing. it's human nature. you are hipoctrite and should learn a lot.

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