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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 22, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 43
Uganda tabloid outs 100 Gay Ugandans
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Uganda tabloid outs 100 Gay Ugandans

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone - not related to the U.S. publication of the same name - has published a front-page story outing what it claims are 100 Gay Ugandans.

Titled '100 Pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Leak - Hang Them,' the story was published October 9, just five days before the one-year anniversary of Uganda's notorious 'Kill the Gays' legislation.

The tabloid not only published the names and photos of the men, but also what it said were their home addresses.

Since the story was published, at least four Gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to human rights activist Julian Onziema.

One person named in the story had his home stoned by neighbors.

More than 20 LGBT Ugandans have been attacked over the last year, and an additional 17 have been arrested and are in prison, according to Frank Mugisha, the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda.

Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 were attacked, he said.

'Before the introduction of the bill in parliament most people did not mind about our activities. But since then, we are harassed by many people who hate homosexuality,' said Patrick Ndede, a Gay man. 'The publicity the bill got made many people come to know about us and they started mistreating us.'

'We are an endangered species within our country,' said Nelly Kabali, a Lesbian. 'We are looked at as if we are outcasts. One time I was in a nightclub with a friend when someone who knew me pointed at me shouting 'There is a Gay!' People wanted to beat me up but I was saved by a bouncer who led me out.'

According to AP reporters, Rolling Stone does not have a large following in Uganda.

The newspaper published its first edition on August 23. It publishes about 2,000 copies, but a single newspaper in Uganda is often read by 10 or more people.

The paper's managing editor, Giles Muhame, said the article was 'in the public interest.'

'We felt there was a need for society to know that such characters exist amongst them. Some of them recruit young children into homosexuality, which is bad and need to be exposed,' he said.

'They take advantage of poverty to recruit Ugandans. In brief we did so because homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable and insults our traditional lifestyle.'

After the newspaper hit the streets, the government Media Council ordered the newspaper to cease publishing - not because of the newspaper's content, but because the newspaper had not registered with the government.

After it completes the paperwork, Rolling Stone will be free to publish again, said Paul Mukasa, secretary of the Media Council.

That decision has angered the LGBT community further.

'Such kind of media should not be allowed in Uganda. It is creating violence and calling for genocide of sex minorities,' said Mugisha. 'The law enforcers and government should come out and protect sex minorities from such media.'

Onziema said a lawsuit against Rolling Stone is in the works.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act, which provides for the death penalty for Gay 'serial offenders,' is stalled in committee in Uganda's parliament. It was introduced last year just after a conference attended by prominent U.S. evangelicals in Kampala, Uganda's capital.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at first supported the legislation, but - responding to international outrage - has said more recently that he does not want it to pass.

Museveni is a protégé of The Family, a secretive group of right-wing U.S. evangelicals that includes several influential political leaders.

Uganda has some 32 million people, about 85% of them Christian and 12% Muslim.

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