Arrested in Africa: Sam Ganafa of Uganda and five women in Senegal

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A prominent LGBT activist in Uganda, Sam Ganafa, was arrested Tuesday, November 12. Specific charges have not yet been determined.

Erase 76 Crimes reports that Ganafa was handcuffed after reporting to the Kasangati police station, following a call from the district police commander. It is speculated that Ganafa’s ex-lover accused him of sodomy and HIV infection; the fifty-one-year-old activist was allegedly detained in order to be tested for HIV.

After police searched Ganafa’s home, two houseguests were also arrested and interrogated.

A long respected member of the Ugandan LGBT community, Ganafa serves as the executive director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and is board chair for the Sexual Minorities Uganda coalition (SMUG). He is set to appear in court on Wednesday, November 13.

In February 2010, Ganafa urged LGBT Ugandans not to reveal their sexuality in order to protect themselves.

“I know I’m suffocating them, but there’s no better option than that,” said Ganafa. “I know what I’ve been through, and I don’t want others to go through it too.”

Ganafa, who is openly gay, was originally outed by a tabloid in 2005. He was then demoted at the telecommunications company where he worked, suffered a pay deduction, and was forced to return his company car.

“Life became very difficult,” Ganafa told Xtra in 2010. “Outing is primitive. It sows the seeds of hatred and homophobia. Nothing good comes to the people who are [forcefully]outed.”

Five women in Senegal, including Sene Dieng, an assistant director for lesbian activist group Women’s Smile, were also arrested this week after they attended a birthday party at a restaurant that allegedly doubles as a gay meeting point.

In Senegal, homosexuality is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $3,000 fine.

A Senegalese newspaper initially reported that the women were arrested after committing public acts of homosexuality. The president of Women’s Smile, Ndeye Kebe, says that allegation is false.

“The women said they were just sitting at a table,” said Kebe. “There were more than a hundred people at the bar, and the police went directly to their table.”

Kebe suspects that restaurant staff members aware of Dieng’s association with Women’s Smile may have notified police.

The women were expected to appear in court on Tuesday, though they could not afford an attorney.

429Magazine

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