Kampala – Uganda released a British theatre producer on bail Monday after he was arrested last week for staging a play about a gay man without proper authorisation, his lawyer said.Producer David Cecil – who faces up to two years in jail if found guilty – was charged on Thursday with two counts including one of “disobeying lawful orders” and sent to prison pending Monday’s bail hearing.
“He has now been granted bail and is being released,” John Francis Onyango, Cecil’s lawyer, told AFP, adding that bail had cost around 200 dollars.
Onyango said that Cecil was in good condition following his brief time in prison, and had been ordered to appear back in court in around a month’s time.Cecil, 34, must seek special authorisation from the court if he wants to leave the country.
The groundbreaking play – titled “The River and The Mountain” – was performed at several venues around Kampala last month despite an injunction by Uganda’s government-run media council, which had placed a temporary ban on the play pending review of the script.
The play examines the plight of a man coming out as a homosexual and the motivations of Uganda’s vociferous anti-gay lobby.Written by British playwright Beau Hopkins, it was directed and performed by Ugandans.Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda but proposed legislation currently before parliament would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts.
Although legislators have said the bill could be changed, in its current form, anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, or engaging in gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV, would be sentenced to death.Public discussion of homosexuality – including by rights groups – would be punished by up to seven years in jail.