Freedom to Roam Uganda (FARUG), a key LGBT rights organization in the country, suffered a suspicious break in last week where the group’s membership database was stolen.
LGBT rights advocates fear the database may now be used by violent anti-gay groups to persecute LGBTs.
Activist Jacqueline Kasha (pictured) said the break in was “unfortunate.”¯ She said it was not easy to establish the intentions of the suspected burglars.
“It seems they were looking for information and data. These are not ordinary thieves,”¯ Kasha said. The burglars left behind cash in a donation glass in the lobby of the organization untouched. They also did not touch a new television set in the organisation’s resource centre.
The group’s leader Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who may be familiar to readers as she was the recipient of the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in May, also gave the following details in a statement from Kampala:
“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that FARUG offices were broken into on Saturday night. Five computers, two printers, server, microwave and some docs including the members electronic database were stolen.”
“A jerrican of acid, one computer, all padlocks filled with acid and a huge metallic pipe were left in the compound. The office lines were also taken and thus we shall only be able to be contacted on our personal phones and the office mobile hotline,” she wrote.
Police are said to be investigating the burglary, though how thoroughly they will examine the matter is unknown given the police force’s lack of attention in other cases involving LGBTs, most notably the murder of prominent LGBT rights advocate David Kato.
FARUG was established in 2003 as a group dedicated to defending the human rights of lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex women in Uganda.
Earlier this year a local tabloid began publishing lists of LGBTs and their addresses until a local human rights judge ordered an end to the public outings.
This comes as politicians once again move to consider Uganda’s now infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, legislation that would mean the death penalty for repeat offenders. Read more here.
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