British producer arrested over play about gay man

David Edwards Cecil, a British National, gesturing inside the court cells of Makindye Court on Thursday September 13, where he was summoned for plea. David was charged with two counts of Disobedience of Lawful Orders by the Uganda Media Council contrary to section 117 of penal code act. The court heard that he staged a controversial play “The river and the mountain” at Tilapia Cultural center on August 17 and at Mish Mash Cultural center on August 26 in Kampala. He was remanded to Luzira prison until Monday September 17 after his bail application was denied. Photo by Isaac Kasamani.

Uganda on Thursday arrested a British theatre producer for staging a play in Kampala about a gay man despite a temporary ban by the country's media authorities, a police spokesman said.

Producer David Cecil was sent to prison until a bail hearing on Monday after being charged in a Kampala court, an AFP reporter said.

"There are two charges preferred against him, one of disobeying lawful orders contrary to the penal code and another of staging the play which was still under review," Ibin Ssenkumbi, a spokesman for the Kampala police, told AFP.

The groundbreaking play -- titled "The River and The Mountain" -- was performed at several venues around Kampala last month despite an injunction by Uganda's media council, the government media authority, which had placed a temporary ban on the play pending review of the script.

The play examines the plight of a man who comes out as homosexual and the motivations of Uganda's vociferous anti-gay lobby.

Written by British playwright Beau Hopkins, it was directed and performed by Ugandans.

Homosexuality is already a crime in Uganda but proposed legislation currently before parliament would see the death penalty introduced for certain homosexual acts.

Although legislators have said the bill could be changed, in its current form, anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, or engaging in gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV, would be sentenced to death.

Public discussion of homosexuality -- including by rights groups -- would be punished by up to seven years in jail.