Thrown out of Africa for staging a gay play – but desperate to return again
A British film producer deported to the UK is fighting to get back to his family in Uganda
Patience Akumu is a Features writer with the Observer newspaper in Uganda. She is the winner of the David Astor Journalism Award 2013 and is on a fellowship programme with The Independent. She was nominated for her work on human rights, ranging from women’s rights to lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.
Friday 28 June 2013
For a man who was arrested and deported by the Ugandan government under “emergency orders”, David Cecil seems quite mild. His small build and curly shoulder-length hair make him look like a member of a mediocre street rock band.
After staging the first play in Uganda which addressed the theme of homosexuality, The River and the Mountain, the British film producer was arrested and deported back to the UK without a proper police investigation or court hearing. He left behind two children, aged one and two, his girlfriend of eight years, and his business. Uganda’s Media Council insisted that the play promoted homosexuality and was against the national culture.
“They saw me as a cultural imperialist,” Cecil says. “The intention of the play was to have a conversation about these issues in the safety of theatre.” He says he did not expect such an extreme reaction, because “It is a play. It is fiction.”
Still thousands of miles away from his family, he has now launched legal proceedings in Uganda challenging the decision by the Internal Affairs minister to deport him, and eventually hopes to return.
Cecil says Uganda remains his favourite East African country because it has “a good balance between liberty and African culture”. Currently, the Uganda Penal Code, while not directly outlawing homosexuality, criminalises “unnatural offences.” Anti-gay rights activists have used the law to mount a crusade against homosexuality.
Cecil’s opinions on gay rights, which he describes as “complicated”, have brought him on a collision course with both human rights activists, who believe he is not committed enough to the cause, and the Ugandan government. “I think people who support homosexuality do not understand the anxiety in African countries about the disintegration of the family,” he says.
“Community is the best part of society and the reason I am so attracted to Uganda.”
He adds: “I did not come to Uganda to piss anyone off. It is a vibrant African country that belongs to Africans. All I wanted to do was make my humble contribution.”
Cecil first visited Uganda in 2007 after meeting a friend who told him it was a beautiful country that had transformed his life. Now, as he waits for the courts to decide on whether or not he can return, he lives in uncertainty, not knowing whether to move on and get a job in Britain.
“The irony is that for six years, I worked hard in Uganda,” he says. “I wished I could have some kind of holiday and my wish has come true.”
He adds that while he does not support the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that was proposed by Ugandan MP David Bahati, the solution is not legislating either for or against it. “When you legislate, you leave the power of guidance to the state. It becomes a question of legal or illegal and it is devoid of humanity,” he says. “Legislation will only antagonise people.”
- 1 Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
- 2 Fifa corruption: Europe plots to stage an 'alternative World Cup' in place of Russia 2018
- 3 How much sex should I be having?
- 4 Jaden Smith wears gender fluid dress to high school prom with Hunger Games actress
- 5 Live football streaming sites Rojadirecta, LiveTV and Drakulastream all completely banned from UK browsers
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, reveals new look on Vanity Fair cover
Russian military jets and US destroyer clash in Black Sea 'posing danger to stability'
Ed Miliband returns to the backbenches but it's all a bit awkward as he tries to avoid eye-contact with fellow Labour MPs
Photographer who performed naked shoot in China's Forbidden City sparks outrage
Man on naked bike ride gets ejected after becoming aroused
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Why this year's general election was the most unfair in Britain's history
£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...
£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A young, vibrant and growing co...
£18500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: While some fundamental programm...
£23500 - £28500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for someone wi...