Uganda Gay Play: Producer David Cecil Freed

Uganda Gay Play: Producer David Cecil Freed

A Ugandan court has dropped charges against a British theatre producer accused of staging a play about gay people.

David Cecil, 34, had faced up to two years in prison on charges of "disobeying lawful orders" as the work was staged without proper authorisation.

Mr Cecil was arrested in September and briefly jailed but had since been granted bail.

His lawyer John Francis Onyango said that no evidence had been submitted to the court so his client was now free.

"The case was dismissed and David was given back his passport," Mr Onyango said.

"The prosecutor has not presented any evidence and failed to sustain the case."

A petition to drop the case against Mr Cecil was signed by more than 2,500 people including British celebrities Stephen Fry, Sandi Toksvig and Simon Callow.

The River and The Mountain was performed at several venues around Kampala in August despite an injunction by Uganda's government-run media council.

The ground-breaking play examined the plight of a man coming out as a homosexual and the motivations of Uganda's vociferous anti-gay lobby.

Written by British playwright Beau Hopkins, it was directed and performed by Ugandans.

Homosexuality is a crime in Uganda and can lead to up to 14 years in prison. Proposed legislation currently before parliament would see the death penalty imposed for certain homosexual acts.

Although legislators have said the bill could be changed, in its current form, anyone caught engaging in homosexual acts for the second time, or engaging in gay sex where one partner is a minor or has HIV, would be sentenced to death.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society with many government figures, religious leaders and the tabloid press engaging in routine insults of gay people and claiming that homosexuality is a western import.

Several countries are considering withholding aid to Uganda if the bill becomes law.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes