Strengthening access to SRHR/HIV friendly services

About 3rd September 2020, HFYUL was approached by Nathan who was seeking emergency shelter as he had had disagreements with his parents over his sexuality. The organisation naturally welcomed him and, although very little information could be obtained to ascertain his claim, he was a minor and so he was allowed to stay at the shelter for a few days while we investigated the case or otherwise forwarded it to HRAPF for verification.

While this process was ongoing, the Executive Director, Iga Isma, received a call on the 9th of September summoning him to the police station on allegations that he had stolen a boda boda. He therefore went to the police station to find out what had happened, but was informed that the case had nothing to do with a motorcycle, and was instead detained without further information. Later that day, the police officers extensively interrogated Isma until he was forced to tell them about the shelter where Nathan was, and they went with the police to get him. One of Isma’s friends, Abdul Karim Ssewankambo (commonly known as Africa) was also arrested and all their phones taken from them. That evening, Isma was taken to the Special Investigations Division of the Police Force at Kireka, where he was detained for three days on charges of abduction before being released on police bond.

During that time, however, the police raided and searched two of the shelters run by the organisation as well as the organisation’s office. In addition, several members of HFYUL have received phone calls from different persons, believed to be security operatives, expressing sexual interest in them and asking to meet them in or around Kireka to talk. The two shelters of which the Police SID became aware have had to be evacuated immediately, with residents there forced to stay temporarily with members of Iga Isma’s family. Iga Isma has also been forced to temporarily flee his home after it was ransacked on Sunday 13th September by plain clothes security operatives without a warrant or identification of any sort. In addition, Iga Isma and Africa saw, at SID, files with names, photos and contacts of several members of the LGBT community, which photos seem to have been taken in settings within the shelter/office premises as seen from banners and posters in the background rather than downloaded from social media. This has raised the fear that all persons that Nathan interacted with during his stay at the shelter are currently under investigation for homosexuality related charges. We are all currently worried about being arrested and put in the press if this case goes on. All these issues have been reported to HRAPF and HRAPF is currently following up on the case at SID after helping us to secure bond on Friday 11th September but the members and staff of HFYUL are no longer feeling safe in their offices and shelter homes.

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