Equity joins Ungandan protest
20 September 2012
Equity General Secretary Christine Payne has added her name to a letter to Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda’s High Commissioner in the UK, calling on the government of Uganda to stop the prosecution of theatre producer David Cecil and to uphold the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
David Cecil, a British theatre producer (pictured left), was freed on bail from a Ugandan jail earlier this week after being arrested for staging a play about the condition of gay people in the country.
The letter, which has been backed by David Lan, Artistic Director of Young Vic, Mike Harris of Index on Censorship and Mary Ann DeVlieg, Secretary General of IETM, the International Network for Contemporary Performing Arts, reads: "We write to express our concern over the prosecution of British theatre producer David Cecil by the Ugandan Media Council for producing the play 'The River and the Mountain'. The play, which was staged in the Ugandan capital Kampala, chronicles the killing of a gay businessman by his staff. It has been highly praised for the tragicomic way it attempts to tackle widespread homophobia in Uganda where leading politicians wish to introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" and gay rights activists such as David Kato have been murdered or beaten with impunity. In this climate, free speech is severely restricted. Uganda's National Theatre rejected the play and the Media Council instructed Cecil not to stage it until state censors had gone through it. Bravely, he went ahead. He now faces two years if convicted for ignoring their orders. We call on the government of Uganda to stop the prosecution of David Cecil and to uphold the fundamental right to freedom of expression."
David is charged with "disobeying lawful orders", after a performance of The River and the Mountain, in which the main character, a gay businessman, is killed by his own employees. It was performed at two theatres in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, last month.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda and the Government is currently considering increasing the penalties to the maximum of a life sentence.
Equity members are encouraged to join the protest by writing to High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere at Uganda House 58-59, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DX.
Watch this space for news of further campaign activities.
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