Gay rights in Uganda: Retired British man Bernard Randall to stand trial for ‘nonsensical’ Ugandan gay sex picture charges

The 65-year-old from Kent faces ‘mob vigilantism’ and death threats after film of him having sex with another man were stolen from his home

A retired British man faces trial in Uganda after a tabloid newspaper published images of him having sex with another man, in charges which he has called “nonsensical”.

Bernard Randall, 65, was horrified to see the stills from “very private videos” appear in the press, and added that he was “devastated” when police arrested and subsequently charged him.

He will answer bail on Monday, and stands accused of “trafficking obscene publications” – reduced from a more serious charge of being involved in “an unnatural act”.

Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda, punishable by up to 14 years in jail, and despite numerous diplomatic protests from the international community the country is currently considering proposals to extend the penalty to life imprisonment.

While the trafficking charge against Mr Randall could see him receive a two-year jail term, police have also arrested his Ugandan partner, 30-year-old Albert Cheptoyek, accusing him of “acts of gross indecency” – which carries a seven year term.

Mr Randall’s campaign has received backing from Stephen Fry, whose documentary Out There last month saw him confronting a Ugandan pastor over the country’s gay rights record, and the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

His supporters say he has received death threats after the pictures emerged, and lives in fear of homophobic mob attacks. The images appeared in a Ugandan tabloid popular for its celebrity and sex scandal stories, following the theft of a computer from Mr Randall’s home.

Speaking from Uganda, the former computer analyst from Faversham in Kent said: “The charges are nonsensical.

“The publication of the pictures was as a consequence of the theft of my laptop. I wasn't publishing them. They were very private videos of my private life that got stolen.”

Speaking on his reaction to being charged, he added: “I was devastated.

“The worst thing was being taken away from our home at 6.30am and thrown into cells where we spent three nights and three whole days until we were charged.

“There was just a concrete floor, no blankets and no pillows, and it wasn't very comfortable. There were quite a lot of people, 18 other criminals in there.

“They had seen the newspaper in the cell so they all were aware of the situation.”

An online petition calling for Mr Randall to be saved from imprisonment said Uganda's gay laws were a “moral outrage” and that he was “scared out of his mind and at the mercy of mob rule and vigilantism”.

One of Mr Randall's friends, Dr Nick Fabbri, told BBC South East Today: “Talking to Bernard, there is a level of vigilantism that exists in Uganda against gays. I wouldn't want to be in his position and we all feel terribly for him.”

Mr Tatchell told the programme: “The consequences of the tabloid exposure of those gay people in Uganda is that many of them have been victims of violent assaults, they have had attacks on their homes and many have been forced out of their jobs.

“This is a really, really shocking attack on gay human rights in Uganda and the Ugandan government is sitting back and allowing it to happen.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman in London said: “We are aware of the arrest of a British national on 19 October in Uganda, and are providing consular assistance.”

You can sign up to the Bring Bernard Home online petition here.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence