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British Producer Faces Possible 2-Year Prison Term for Producing Gay-Themed Play in Uganda

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David Cecil, the producer of The River and The Mountain, Uganda's first gay-themed play which had a short six-day run in Kampala in August, faces a possible two-year jail term.

CecilRadio Netherlands Worldwide's Mark Schenkel reports:

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'."

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.

Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, a straight actor who played the lead role in the play, told France24 that he was proud to take it on and that the audience welcomed it:

The reaction to the play makes me think we’re headed in the right direction, as we had a full house every night. Many of the people who came were from the neighbourhood we were playing in, and didn’t even know that the play would touch on homosexuality. It was a great success. Only two people walked out – one who was clearly homophobic, and an activist who thought the play wasn’t activist enough. But many gay people thanked us, saying that we perfectly captured their experiences. I heard one director said he wouldn’t work with me any more because I took on this role, but I don’t care – I did my job, and I am proud of it.

Here's the River and the Mountain's Facebook page.

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Comments

  1. And if the Ugandans try to follow up with any kind of trial it is essential that the 'International Commission of Jurists' be there as observers, not to mention the State Dept. of the USA.

    No more aid to fascist regimes !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Sep 11, 2012 12:36:19 PM


  2. all through history those who seek to control the population do so by attacking art.

    one of the first things Boehner did two years ago was attack artwork at the Smithsonian that addle-brained conservative "Christians" chose to ignorantly take issue with.

    art holds a mirror up to society and acts as the hammer that smashes the glass ceilings.

    the boys in the band. south pacific. showboat. cat on a hot tin roof. suddenly last summer.

    works that cried out about injustice at a time when "law" was still used to baselessly enforce bigotry.

    be wary of those who seek to de-fund and censor ART.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Sep 11, 2012 2:40:01 PM


  3. the crap including the gays to genocide bill in Uganda is thanks to american extremist xtian groups like AFA, FRC and FRI

    they've found fertile ground in uganda - remember the muslim extremist - Edi Amin and the entebbe scene back in the 1980s.

    BTW these american extremists are generally the same people or their progeny of those who justified slavery as per the bible, and stole tens of millions of blacks from africa to be slaves in the western hemisphere.

    Duh - maybe the best thing we could do is put spermacide everywhere, let the human race dice out and try again in a million year.s

    Posted by: billyWingartenson | Sep 11, 2012 4:51:46 PM


  4. the crap including the gays to genocide bill in Uganda is thanks to american extremist xtian groups like AFA, FRC and FRI

    they've found fertile ground in uganda - remember the muslim extremist - Edi Amin and the entebbe scene back in the 1980s.

    BTW these american extremists are generally the same people or their progeny of those who justified slavery as per the bible, and stole tens of millions of blacks from africa to be slaves in the western hemisphere.

    Duh - maybe the best thing we could do is put spermacide everywhere, let the human race dice out and try again in a million year.s

    Posted by: billyWingartenson | Sep 11, 2012 4:51:46 PM


  5. Very sad situation but Mr. Cecil as well as the actors and actresses involved in this play are very brave for standing up against such an inhumane environment against LGBT citizens in Uganda.

    Posted by: Francis | Sep 11, 2012 5:09:02 PM


  6. Is Clinton staying on as Sec of State? If she is staying a second term if/when Obama is re-elected I'd like to see her wipe the floor with Uganda, diplomatically speaking.

    I was impressed when the grey hat groups hacked their major websites, although you'd have to question how essential their cyber infrastructure is.

    Posted by: MaddM@ | Sep 11, 2012 9:15:55 PM


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