'Don't out Gays,' Uganda judge tells tabloid
 

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posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01

'Don't out Gays,' Uganda judge tells tabloid
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A Ugandan judge has ordered the tabloid Rolling Stone to stop publishing the names and photos of men it claims are Gay.

According to John Francis Onyango, attorney for three Ugandan Gay rights activists, High Court Judge Vincent Musoke-Kibuuke issued his order January 3.

'The judge granted a permanent injunction against (the anti-Gay tabloid) Rolling Stone from publishing these names,' Onyango told AFP reporters.

'But the ruling went beyond these applicants and extended to all media,' he added.

The judge ruled that publishing the identities of people believed to be Gay violated Ugandans' constitutional right to privacy.

Uganda's Rolling Stone - which has no connection to the U.S. music magazine of the same name - has published several articles naming individuals it identified as Gay or Lesbian. In some cases, the individuals' addresses and phone numbers were also published.

Judge Musoke-Kibuuke also ruled that the plaintiffs' lives were threatened since the story exposed them to potential attacks from vigilantes, Onyango said.

Plaintiffs were awarded 1.5 million Uganda shillings (about 650 dollars or 500 euros) and Rolling Stone was ordered to pay all legal fees they had incurred.

'We think that the compensation is on the low side, but the principles here are very important,' Onyango said.

The request for the injunction was filed by three activists from a Gay rights group, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Pictures of the three, along with their hometowns, were published in a previous issue of Rolling Stone.

In its articles, Rolling Stone outed more than 20 people its editor believed were Gay. It claimed it had the names and photos of hundreds of Gay Ugandans.

A lawyer for Rolling Stone argued that the three petitioners had voluntarily identified themselves as Gay rights leaders in other media and therefore the tabloid could not be punished for restating their identities.

The editor, Giles Muhame, said he found some of the other photos on a Gay dating website.

Judge Musoke-Kibuuke dismissed the argument, saying that the broader danger of outing Gays in a tangibly homophobic country was the paramount issue. He noted that one story explicitly incited violence, carrying a headline that said 'Hang Them.'

In a previous hearing, the judge suggested that Uganda's law against homosexuality, defined as 'carnal knowledge against the order of nature,' should be re-examined.

Currently, Ugandans convicted of having same-sex relations face 14 years in prison.

Last year, supporters of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni introduced legislation to increase penalties to life in prison - or death for 'serial offenders.'

The 'kill-the-Gays' bill has been tied up in a committee of Uganda's parliament since it was introduced, and no date has been set for parliament to consider it.



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