Uganda gays in hiding after 'hang homos' article

 

AT LEAST four gay Ugandans have been attacked and many more are in hiding following the publication of an article in the country’s Rolling Stonenewspaper, which called for “the hanging of homos”.

The article, titled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak”, claimed the country’s gay community was trying to “recruit” one million children and that a deadly disease causing “shattered flesh” was spreading through it.

It was accompanied by names, photos and the contact details of gay people in the country. Rolling Stone, which only began publishing six weeks ago, is not affiliated with the American title of the same name.

Brian Nkoyooyo, director of Ice Breakers Uganda, says that one gay rights activist had stones thrown at her house while other people have been attacked in bars and in their own houses.

He also had his name and home address published in the newspaper.

“Most of us are living in fear since the article was published,” he said.

“Everyone is taking precautions, not going out to public places or taking private transport. If we need to leave our houses, we do so early in the morning, when no one can see us and take private transport.”

Uganda’s Media Council has ordered the newspaper to stop operating, but only because it is not properly registered as a newspaper, said Paul Musaka, secretary of the council.

That has prompted fears over what the newspaper will publish once it has filled in the proper forms, as it promised to publish more names and photos in its next issue.

The article comes one year after a Ugandan MP introduced a Bill in parliament that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others.

Although the Bill has since been suspended, the country’s gay community is concerned that homophobia in the East African nation is increasing since its introduction.

“It is getting worse. Gays were harassed before the Bill was introduced but since its introduction it has escalated. More people are being beaten up, chased from their churches and evicted from their homes,” said Julian Onziema of the rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda.

“Some people think the Bill is law, so they have begun taking action into their own hands. Rolling Stoneis pouring fuel onto the fire.”

In April 2009, the tabloid Red Pepperfeatured a “killer dossier’ titled “Top Homos in Uganda named”.

In September 2007, the same newspaper carried out a “weird sex investigation” titled “Homo Terror”.

Homosexuality is a taboo subject in Uganda and other many other African countries, where it is often regarded as a “western import”. However, visibility of gay rights is improving.

In July, the former president of Botswana, Festus Mogae, called for the repeal of the country’s sodomy laws while David Kuria of the Gays and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya is standing for election to the senate in 2012. If elected he will be only the second openly gay member of parliament in Africa. The other is Ian Olis, a shadow labour minister in South Africa.