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Uganda's first LGBT trial keeps getting postponed

Jackson Mukasa poses outside the Buganda road Magistrates Court on June 12, 2014.
Jackson Mukasa poses outside the Buganda road Magistrates Court on June 12, 2014.
Isaac Kasamani/Getty

The trial of two LGBT Ugandans accused of having sexual relations that are "against the order of nature" was once again postponed this week because witnesses for the prosecution failed to show up to court.

As previously reported, Jackson Mukasa, a 19-year-old trans woman, and Kim Mukisa, a 24-year-old gay man, were arrested earlier this year for violating section 145 of Uganda's Penal Code Act of 1950, which criminalizes sexual acts between people of the same sex. This is the first time anyone in Uganda has stood trial for this "crime" since the country's Anti Homosexuality Bill was signed into law in February.

This week wasn't the first time the prosecution's witnesses didn't show up. It happened last month as well, which led to the trial being rescheduled for June 12. The witnesses are the local authorities who earlier this year removed Mukisa from his house for being gay. Adrian Jjuuko, Executive Director of the Uganda-based Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), said he wasn't sure why the prosecution's witnesses failed to appear for trial, especially since they had previously showed up for Mukisa and Mukasa's original bail hearing. Though the bail hearings were postponed several times, Mukasa and Mukisa were finally granted bail on May 7 and May 12, respectively.

According to Neela Ghoshal, LGBT researcher on Uganda for Human Rights Watch, a new trial date has been set for July 7. "Let's hope [the witnesses] continue not to show up," she said.