British actor thrown into Ugandan jail after appearing in play about homophobia

Keith Prosser starred in The River and the Mountain about a gay businessman in the African country where homosexuality is still illegal

A British man is being in held in a prison in Uganda after appearing in a play which exposed the plight of homosexuals in the country.

Keith Prosser was arrested by Ugandan police and thrown into a cell following his appearance in the play The River and the Mountain, in which a group of Ugandan employees kills their own boss when they learn he is gay. He has been held in a Kampala detention centre for the past eight days.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and the authorities had tried to block the play, which was staged in Kampala. David Cecil, another British citizen who produced the play, was also arrested.

Mr Cecil, 35, was deported on Monday as an “undesirable immigrant” after spending five days in detention at a Kampala police station.

Now back in London, Mr Cecil said he was concerned for Mr Prosser, a part-time actor who worked as an administrator at Uganda’s Cavendish University, and is also now facing deportation. “Keith is not in the best of health, he is vulnerable,” said Mr Cecil.

In the play, staged twice last year, Mr Prosser played an evangelical Pastor who “spreads the gospel of homophobia,” Mr Cecil said. Mr Prosser was arrested for a visa irregularity but the motivation behind his detention was the anger caused by the play, the producer claimed.

“He would have been given a small fine but a call came through telling the immigration office that he was involved with me and the play and that he was not to be released under any condition. He was to be deported,” Mr Cecil said.

Friends of Mr Prosser, who lived in Kenya before moving to Uganda, are raising funds to pay for the flight to London which will secure his release.

In his 50s, Mr Prosser, who was due to appear in a production of Macbeth at the Uganda National Theatre next month, is said to be in a frail condition. He was forced to share a crowded detention cell with no beds.

Mr Cecil was first imprisoned when Uganda’s media council said it had not authorised his play. A court threw the case out, citing a lack of evidence.

He was re-arrested last week as the Ugandan parliament prepares to debate a strict new anti-homosexuality bill, which would criminalise the promotion of homosexuality and failure to report it.

Mr Cecil plans to appeal against his deportation in Uganda’s high court. He was imprisoned and expelled without being able to say goodbye to his partner Florence Kebirungi and their two young children. “It’s very distressing for my partner. I don’t know when I’m going to see my children again,” he said.

But he has no regrets over staging the controversial play, which examines the interplay between religion, politics, and sexuality in a society where homosexuals are forced into secrecy and activists receive death threats.

Mr Cecil said: “A wide range of people came to see the play and there were only two walk-outs. Uganda is not a violently homophobic society but the conception is distorted by a handful of politicians and pastors who are doing immense harm to the country. Our arrests were the result of bureaucratic careerism within the authorities.”

The Foreign Office has expressed its concern over the treatment of the two Britons to the Uganda High Commission, Mr Cecil said. Mr Prosser has no family in the UK and would have nowhere to live, Mr Cecil fears.

He described his own five days in prison as “pretty horrendous”. Mr Cecil said: “I was put in a tiny holding cell with Ugandan criminals, some of them murderers and rapists. There were 42 of us in two rooms, four metres by four metres.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week