Women Physically Abused by Ugandan Police in Safe Shelter Raid

Rella Women’s Foundation is a safe place for women who have been or are at risk of being persecuted as LGBTQI+ or perceived as such, to thrive and live in resilient progressive and sustainable safe spaces.


Rella WF believes and understands that they all have a right to a safe home. This is as a basic human right. Their existence is not criminal. Yet laws that criminalize "unnatural offenses" are used to criminalize consensual same-sex acts and relationships even where there is no evidence of such and where such does not exist. To prove such would require catching persons in a sex act.


The Rella House of Hope Program have effective and efficient projects to guide and support the strategic transitioning of women to get attain a permanent, safe, and affordable housing in Uganda.


On May 07, 2022, Rella Women's Foundation was raided by the Local Council leaders (LC) and

the Uganda Police. On being questioned who was at the gate, they said they were the LC and had come for daily check in and a mandatory search among the people who were hosted at the Rella House of Hope shelter.


After the first check, the LC took the residents to the LC's office, where they were further

interrogated. The matter escalated to the point of calling local police. The LC later took the residents to

Kisaasi Police Post to report a complaint of "unnatural offenses" that were being suspected

to be carried out at the premises. This is an example of how the criminalizing laws seek to criminalize the very existence of LGBTQI people, who are accused of committing offenses against the "order of nature." There is no proof or real understanding of such so called "offense" and yet the criminal code is used to harass people who are living peacefully, who are merely suspected of being LGBTQI - as in this instance.


Rella House spokesperson reports: "During the mandatory check, the Rella House of Hope Residents and a Rella Selection were stripped naked and assaulted at the premises in the name of checking our private parts to determine whether we were male or female."


A community paralegal from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum arrived at

the premises to intervene but ended up also being detained. Everyone that arrived at the

Rellatopia was detained in the sense that they weren't allowed to leave, no rights to a phone

call and all phones and communication electronics taken.


It is reported that a Rella Women's Foundation director was also detained and her private

parts were checked and touched to be sure if she was male or female too. There was one physical assault on the Rella Women's Foundation Wellness and Administration Associate. She was slapped after being interrogated about the contents of a local Magazine known as Kuchu Times and she responded that she had no clue and idea.

It is reported that there was a lot of condemning and cursing from the local community members, police and local leaders as they captured videos and took pictures of those being detained.


Some of the things that were taken to be used as evidence included Kuchu Times Magazines (Bombastic Magazine), HRAPF and SMUG publications, phones and laptops, the Residents HandBook, testing kits, condoms, lubricant, a laser machine and a program Agenda for the previous workshops.


After reviewing the case, the officer in charge dismissed the case over no reasonable need

for arrest and commented that the way forward be determined by the community, the

LandLady and the Local leaders.


At 8:30pm it was determined that the Residents and Kahuna would stay overnight at Kira

Road police station where they were being taken for protective custody. "In the police patrol

car we were taken to Kira Road police station. On arrival they were taken to an office where

they were questioned and interrogated on who they are, who their parents were, the work

they do, why they are at the shelter and why Rella Women's Foundation runs a shelter."


The safe house, which has taken much funding and years to establish is now a security threat to anyone who may stay there and as the Government and Police and Community are the greatest threat to anyone perceived LGBTQI, the shelter cannot continue as such. This is an enormous tragedy and loss to those benefiting from the safety and security. What this shows the world is that there is nowhere in Uganda, not even shelters, that can be deemed safe place for anyone perceived as LGBTQI. They will continue to be targets of harassment, persecution, mental and abuse at the hands of State and Non-State actors in Uganda, for as long as criminalizing penal codes continue to impose this danger. Ultimately the Ugandan Government is accountable for such human rights abuses. It is apparent that in recent weeks, the United Nations is looking to hold Uganda accountable for all its human rights abuses. The current President, Yoweri Museveni, a thirty year dictator, previously signed the (2014) Anti- Homosexuality Act (The Kill The Gays Bill) into law. The law was overturned that same year due to the fact that Parliament failed to have a quorum when the Bill passed. The current Penal Codes are relics from British Colonial rule - and remain in effect, though used mostly to harass innocent people in Uganda.

By Melanie Nathan nathan@AfricanHRC.org