(WB) Police in Uganda on Monday arrested 44 people at an LGBT shelter outside the country’s capital of Kampala.

Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT advocacy group, told the Washington Blade in an email the arrests took place in Nansana, a municipality in the Wakiso District. 

Mugisha in another tweet said prosecutors have charged 42 of the 44 people who were arrested with “negligent act likely to spread infection of disease.” Mugisha added authorities subjected them to so-called anal tests to determine whether they are gay.

Mugisha said a bail hearing for 39 of the 44 people who were arrested took place on Wednesday. He tweeted the court “adjourned the matter to Friday.” 

Mugisha said three of those who were arrested have been released on bail.

Pan Africa ILGA is among the organizations that have urged the Ugandan government to release those who were arrested. A State Department spokesperson on Wednesday told the Washington Blade in a statement the U.S. Embassy in Kampala is “following developments in the case closely.”

“We understand the individuals are being charged with violating government of Uganda restrictions on the size of gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said the spokesperson.

“The United States remains committed to supporting democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, and prosperity in Uganda,” they added. “No one should face arrests, violence or torture because of who they are or who they love. We continue to engage with the government of Uganda on a wide range of issues, including those related to human rights, including LGBTQI+ rights, to improve the lives of all Ugandans.”

Uganda is among the dozens of countries around the world in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

Lawmakers last month passed a bill that would further criminalize homosexuality in the country.

Police in April 2020 arrested 19 LGBT people at a Kampala shelter and charged them with violating regulations the Ugandan government put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Prosecutors subsequently dropped the charges against them, and court-ordered their release.