Ugandan Court Dismisses High-Profile Case Against Ugandan LGBT Activist

Sam Ganafa was arrested in November 2013 in the run-up to passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

A Ugandan court has dismissed charges against Sam Ganafa, head of the LGBT rights group Spectrum Uganda, Ganafa told the blog Erasing 76 Crimes on Wednesday.

The court dismissed the charges on Oct. 8, Ganafa said. He was arrested in November 2013 — in the run-up to parliament's passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act — along with three others who were staying in his house. They were charged under Uganda's colonial-era law criminalizing sodomy.

Prosecutors had repeatedly sought to delay the trial, and the judge threw out the case after prosecutors requested yet another delay. This has generally been the outcome of charges brought under the sodomy code. Charges against two others were dismissed last week for the same reason. Police frequently arrest people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity without the evidence needed to convict them of sodomy. No sodomy charges have ever gone to trial in Uganda's modern history, according to the legal organization the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum.

"The court action is a good sign, because it's independent and opens a window of hope for us," Ganafa told Erasing 76 Crimes in an exchange by Facebook message. "We also expect the same action to be taken in other cases currently before the courts. I pray that the courts will ward off possible pressures from the anti-gay lobby."

Ganafa also said he was now concerned for his safety because "some of our adversaries have vowed to strike again."

The three others who were arrested with Ganafa fled to Kenya and have been living in dangerous conditions while awaiting to be resettled as refugees.

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