Ugandan star faces pornography prosecution for racy video

June 2015

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Ugandan pop singer Jemimah Kansiime, who performs as Panadol Wa’basajja (which translates as ‘medicine for men’) is facing prosecution under Uganda’s 2014 Anti-Pornography Act, the conservative government’s somewhat draconian attempt to ban porn or “any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.” The Act defines pornography as “any representation through publication, exhibition, cinematography, indecent show, information technology or by whatever means, of a person engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a person for primarily sexual excitement.” It goes on to state that “a person shall not produce, traffic in, publish, broadcast, procure, import, export, sell or abet any form” of the state’s interpretation of porn. The penalty, if convicted, is a fine or up to ten years in prison or both.
The prosecution is the result of a racy music video for the track “Nkulinze” where the 21-year-old pop star can be seen dancing in a soaped-up thong and not much else. Kansiime released the video last September and was arrested two months later after Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo was apparently “shocked” by the video. Lokodo has recently boasted that he and his “intelligence team” of spies are “on the ground” watching singers and artistes closely. Kansiime’s then-manager, Didi Muchwa Mugisha, was also detained but he was released after pleading guilty and agreeing to pay a small fine of about US $75. The singer, however, pleaded not guilty and was subsequently detained for five weeks in custody before posting bail.  She is due back in court next month.
“When I was making that video I never intended it for children, I intended it for adults. I did not sell or distribute the song,” Kansiime told AFP. “My rights have been trampled upon; my freedom of expression has been trampled upon.”
In 2014 Uganda also passed the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2014 into law. The Act prohibits any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex; prohibit the promotion or recognition of such relations and to provide for other related matters. The ultimate sanction is life imprisonment.  The Acts originates in a private members bill promoted by David Bahati to strengthen laws against homosexuality and received widespread support from evangelical Christian groups. Uganda’s Catholic Archbishop of Kampala Cyprian Lwanga stated in December 2009 that the bill was unnecessary and “at odds with the core values” of Christianity, expressing particular concerns at the death penalty provisions which the bill originally contained. and

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