According to the Guardian, British producer David Cecil has been arrested in Uganda after mounting a stage production of The River and the Mountain, a play that explores gay issues. The show was staged despite a previous ban by regulators; Cecil could receive a two-year sentence maximum in jail for bypassing the ban.
After being called in by the police and interviewed by officers from the CID (Criminal Investigation Directorate)'s media division, Cecil stated, "They said that by staging the play I have disobeyed the Media Council, which is a public authority. I've been charged with that offense and they are now considering whether to press on with the case. But I had only taken their letter to be advisory, not the law."
Read the original report here.
The Ugandan Media Council sent a letter to the producer on August 16 informing him that the play was still under consideration as to whether it would be allowed to be performed. The letter proscribed Cecil from staging the play in "any theatre or public place in Uganda" before a decision had been made. Cecil canceled the play's scheduled run at The National Theatre but allowed the production to be staged at two theaters in Kampala.
As reported by the Guardian, Ugandan ethics minister Simon Lokodo stated the council's reason for banning the play: "This play is justifying the promotion of homosexuality in Uganda, and Uganda does not accommodate homosexual causes."
The play is described on its We Fund project profile as "Born and raised in Uganda, this comedy drama tackles the controversial interplay of religion, politics, and sexuality. The River and the Mountain goes where other Ugandan productions fear to tread. In 2009, proposed legislation threatened to further the criminalization of homosexuality in Uganda. The gay community fought back and the Bill was shelved for a time. However, Ugandan homosexuals are still forced into secrecy and activists regularly receive death threats." Poet Beau Hopkins and filmmaker David Cecil met by chance in Uganda and are working with Ugandan actors and the BBC-award-winning director Angella Emurwon to produce the play.