Samuel K. Ganafa, a prominent LGBT advocate in Uganda, has been jailed since Tuesday on allegations of having infected someone with HIV. Police have refused to provide medical proof of these allegations and have ignored requests to explain the charges against him, according to Ugandan activists.
Ganafa is the director of Spectrum Uganda and chairman for Sexual Minorities Uganda, two of the African nation's most prominent LGBT rights organizations, where homosexuality is illegal.
On Tuesday, November 12, Ganafa received a call from Kampala police demanding his presence at the Kasangati station, where Ganafa was arrested and loaded into a police a van. According to a press release from SMUG, Ganafa was then driven to his home where police raided his property without a search warrant. During their unwarranted search, Ugandan police arrested three other houseguests that were staying with Ganafa. All four are still in police custody without formal charge, despite Uganda's constitutional provision that those criminally accused must be brought before a court within 48 hours.
On Wednesday, November 13, SMUG heard of a complaint filed by a man named Disan Twesiga alleging that Ganafa infected him with HIV. The following day, Twesiga hosted a press conference at the Kasanagati police station, attended by most of the nation's major media outlets. SMUG reports that police "paraded" Ganafa before the press, despite the fact that he has not been charged with or found guilty of a crime. LGBT advocates in Uganda report that local media is portraying Ganafa as "a sodomy rapist who infected someone with HIV/AIDS." Police has been unable to produce any medical evidence for such allegations.
"He is being targeted because the propagandists are looking for someone in the movement with a high profile and he suits that," Kasha Jaqueline, a Ugandan lesbian and LGBT activist tells reporters. "The accuser has changed his statements over and over," she notes.
Jacqueline, who has been involved with Uganda's LGBTI movement since the late '90s, suspects that Ganafa was targeted for his long-standing support of Uganda's lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community. "Sam is one of the most honest, gentle, caring, and intelligent people this movement has ever seen," says Jacqueline. "It's because of his generosity that he is now a victim of a blackmail scam. It's very unfortunate because Sam has been there for everyone one of the elders of this community. Many in the world didn't even know he existed, and may be shocked to read his name, but Sam is one of the backbones of this movement. It's heartbreaking that now his life has been destroyed for simply being a good man."
Spectrum Uganda and the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law have called for immediate release of all those arrested in connection with Ganafa, unless they are brought before a court immediately. The pro-LGBT coalition notes that this kind of incident is not new to the East African nation, but instead only the latest episode in the long-running campaign that targets the LGBTI people of Uganda.