Uganda charges revelers arrested in gay-friendly bar

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KAMPALA, Uganda

Dozens of people arrested at a gay-friendly bar in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, have been charged in court with “being a common nuisance.”

Some members of Kampala’s LGBTQ community see the arrests as an attempt to shut down spaces available to them.

But the police insist they are not targeting them because of their sexuality.

The magistrate’s court in central Kampala on Tuesday could not accommodate the 67 accused – six of whom are women – so they had to appear in three separate courtrooms.

There were few state prosecutors present in court and only 29 of the accused could enter pleas. All pleaded not guilty.

Lawyers for the suspects described the charges of common nuisance as general and giving arresting officers too much power.

All 67 suspects have been remanded in custody and will appear in court over the next two weeks to enter pleas and apply for bail.

Some of the friends of those charged were crying outside the court and shared stories of how the climate was getting worse for gay people in Uganda.

But the authorities still insist the community is not being singled out.

The accused were arrested on Sunday night in a police operation in central Kampala. Police say narcotics, including opium and cannabis, were found at the bar.

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