Queer Kampala International Film Festival forced to close

Screenings raided by police with AK-47s

by Jennie Kermode

The Queer Kampala International Film Festival
The Queer Kampala International Film Festival

The Queer Kampala International Film Festival was forced to close this afternoon, halfway through its planned three days programme, after it was raided by police who reportedly planned to arrest the organisers. A tip-off enabled most attendees to leave the building before they arrived. According to a report in Gay Star News, they were armed with AK-47s.

Although homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, police in Kampala had previously been relaxed about the event, so the raid came as a surprise, with one of the organisers suggesting that a rival organisation must have leaked details of the secret location where it was being held - a converted warehouse with a home-made screen. According to the festival team, they had faced considerable challenges in trying to find anywhere willing to host it.

The festival, which was in its second year, featured films from around the world and was particularly important to queer filmmakers from African countries, many of whom struggle to screen their work. The organisers had hoped that it would contribute to raising awareness of LGBTI people's experiences, and changing attitudes.

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