John M. Becker

Anti-Gay Witch Hunt Resumes in Uganda; One Already Dead

Filed By John M. Becker | February 25, 2014 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, outing, persecution, pogrom, Red Pepper, tabloids, Uganda, witch hunt

uganda-red-pepper-top-homos.jpgToday, just one day after Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill (also known as the "Jail the Gays" bill) into law, a tabloid published a list containing the names, addresses, personal information, and in some cases photos of 200 people it claims are gay.

The front page of newspaper Red Pepper reads, "Exposed! Uganda's 200 Top Homos Named." Four photos accompany the sensational headlines. Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin reports:

Two of the four front-page photos are of well-known LGBT rights activists. Sam Ganafa, executive director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and board chair for the Sexual Minorities Uganda coalition, had been arrested with four others by police last November and spent two weeks in jail and charged with "unnatural offenses," which carried a potential lifetime imprisonment even without the Anti-Homosexuality act being in place. The five were finally released on bail, awaiting trial.

Transgender rights activist Victor Musaka who won an important High Court case in 2008 which stemmed from his arrest and personal body examination by police seeking to determine his so-called "real" gender. The High Court issued a landmark ruling stating that police had violated his right to privacy and that the principles of equality and non-discrimination are applicable to the LGBT community.

The other two photos are of popular cultural figures in Uganda, Fr. Anthony Musaala and a hip-hop performer who goes by the stage name of Keko. Fr. Anthony Musaala is a recording artist known as "the singing priest." In 2009, in the anti-gay hysteria stirred up by the infamous conference conducted by Scott Lively and two other American Evangelicals, Musaala was named by the Ugandan organization that sponsored Lively's talk, and later by a lacky by a lacky of rival pastor Martin Ssempa.

Musaala is a well-known figure and the Catholic church is seen as a rival to Uganda's evangelical churches. Musaala's name appeared in another tabloid's outing campaign in 2010 when Sunday Onion (no relation to the satirical U.S. publication with a similar name) published his name and photo. Musaala has never publicly discussed his sexuality.

Keko experienced Red Pepper's retaliation last week when Keko took to social media saying, "If Sevo signs the anti-homosexuality bill, we are always going to be third world. Development is tolerance."

Most of the other people named in the report are private, ordinary citizens. The paper provides no evidence of their alleged sexuality or gender identity, yet published their names and information -- and therefore put targets on their backs -- just the same.

As Burroway notes above, this isn't the first high-profile outing campaign from Ugandan tabloids. In 2010, for example, the now-defunct Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine of the same name) took the lead, publishing several titillating gay exposés.

When it printed the names and photographs of 100 of "Uganda's top homos" along with the words "hang them," some took the suggestion literally: one of the men featured in the photo spread, LGBT activist David Kato, was brutally murdered a short time later. The Ugandan high court banned media outlets from publishing such lists, but that has apparently been an insufficient deterrent.

Today's feature story in Red Pepper has many Ugandan LGBTs fearing for their lives -- and at least one person named by the newspaper may have already been killed. Details after the jump.

uganda-red-pepper-top-homos2.jpgAccording to noted Ugandan LGBT activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, who is herself on the list of "top homos," a suspected gay couple was attacked after being named by Red Pepper. One of them reportedly died. "The media witch hunt is back," she tweeted earlier today.

Others on the list have already gone into hiding, the Associated Press reports:

Many on the list "are scared and they need help," said Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent Ugandan gay activist who was named in in the Red Pepper tabloid. "Some want to leave the country and they are asking to be helped."...

Onziema, who has repeatedly warned that Uganda's new law could spark violence against gays, said the tabloid had provided enough information to identify many people who had not come out publicly.

"Some of the employers have read the paper, and from the descriptions they can tell who these people are," he said.

Red Pepper's latest outing, which takes up three full interior pages, reportedly also contains a boatload of salacious anti-gay and anti-trans slurs:

[The] article outs... celebrities and "socialites" who are suspected of being LGBT or being homosexual "sympathizers." In describing the LGBT activists, the tabloid refers to transgender men as "confessed gay" women and repeatedly calls gay men "bum-drillers." The lengthy list also contends that same-sex couples and LGBT activists have "a sophisticated way of operating, recruiting several boys and girls into the devilish act."

As Ugandans organize pogroms against LGBT people, will the U.S. hide behind sternly-worded press releases or will we actually respond to this barbarity with reprimands, sanctions, and cuts in foreign aid? Let's contact the White House (website, Facebook, Twitter) and the State Department (website, Facebook, Twitter) and tell them to take concrete action to stand up for persecuted LGBT Ugandans. If we don't, their blood will be on our hands.

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