David Cecil (Pic: Mark Schenkel / Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

The British man charged with defying the Ugandan authorities by putting on a gay play has been granted bail and released from prison.

David Cecil, who has been living in the country for three years, put on the play The River and the Mountain at the small cultural centre in Kampala that he runs with his girlfriend.

The play deals with the challenges of being gay in Uganda, where homosexuality is banned and politicians have called for punishment to include the death penalty.

Despite the Ugandan Media Council refusing to give clearance for the play to be produced and then later banning it outright, Cecil went ahead with the show, which ran from 17 to 23 August.

Last week Thursday, he was jailed on charges of disobeying an order from a public authority. On Monday, he was finally granted bail.

“He has now been granted bail and is being released,” said John Francis Onyango, Cecil’s lawyer. He is expected to appear in court in about a month’s time to face the charges. If found guilty, he could be jailed for two years.

Human rights and LGBTI group have slammed the arrest. “Such acts go against the constitutional provisions of freedom of expression and assembly,” said Clare Byarugaba, a coordinator of the Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

“These charges are ungrounded and only serve to propel further the State of Uganda’s anti-gay campaigns,” she said.

AFP quoted Uganda’s notoriously homophobic ethics and integrity minister Simon Lokodo saying that the authorities would crack down on anyone that put on The River and the Mountain.

“We have already put a directive to police that whoever is taking part in the play and especially those Ugandans who are paid to take part must stop or else they will be inviting the long arm of the law,” he said.

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