Ugandan Tabloid Invites More Anti-Gay Vigilantism
December 30th, 2009
The notorious Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper today published a full-page spread purporting to out “city tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos.” As with an earlier public vigilante campaign waged by the same tabloid last April, this sensationalistic hit piece reveals names, residences, places of employment, and other clues of where people can be found who purportedly finance Uganda’s beleaguered LGBT community.
This article promotes the same allegations repeated by several other political and religious leaders that Uganda’s LGBT community is financed by millions from foreign sources. This article alleges that Ugandan “coordinators” receive a monthly salary of 1.5 million Ugandan Shillings (about US$780), which is ten to twelve times the average Ugandan’s monthly income.
The article cites as its source “the estranged Gay Uganda spokesperson” (we’ve obscured the name pending further information). We do not know whether this is intended to refer to the anonymous blogger GayUganda or not. We know that the anonymous blogger is an individual and not an organization, and therefore would have no need for a “spokesperson.” Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo recently targeted the blogger, claiming that he is one of three “organizations” sharing in US$20 million in foreign money. The so-called Gay Uganda spokesperson in this piece claimed that the Red Pepper’s “list of gay sponsors was just a tip of the iceberg.” The article hints are more follow-up stories.
[Update: The “spokesman” is Paul Kagaba, who GayUganda identifies as an “ex-gay”. GayUganda confirms that Kagaba has nothing to do with him. We have re-posted the newspaper scans with the obscuring of Kagaba’s name removed.]
Last April, the Red Pepper published a “killer dossier” of more than fifty purportedly gay Ugandans, and included such personal identifying features as first names, places of residences and employment, the kinds of cars they drove, and other identifying features as part of a national vigilante campaign.
This article appears to be the handiwork of Pastor Martin Ssempa, who is an ardent supporter of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is now before Parliament. Ssempa has recently called for a nationwide rally for January 19, 2010 to press for the bill’s passage. This appears to be an attempt to intimidate those who might oppose the bill in the days leading up to that rally. According to the Red Pepper:
Ssempa further said that the main reason Ndorwa West Member of Parliament David Bahati’s Bill is feared is that the mentioned people and organizations will be culprits. He revealed that investigations were underway to ascertain allegations that several politicians and senior citizens were under lobby to frustrate the Bahati Bill.
Among the many provisions of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill is one that would criminalize all advocacy and support by and on behalf of LGBT people in Uganda. The criminal penalties include five to seven year’s imprisonment, with finds of up to US$50,000.
The “investigations” that SSempa refers to may be of recent allegations by supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill who claim to have received death threats. Uganda’s largest independent newspaper The Monitor carried an unverified story claiming that MP Bahati’s cousin had been kidnapped. (Bahati made no mention of that alleged kidnapping during his recent television interview on Uganda’s state-owned UBC.) These allegations sound eerily similar to earlier accusations raised during last spring’s so-called “pastor wars,” in which Ssempa and others accused rival pastors of homosexuality. Those charges also included accusations of kidnappings and beatings, allegedly to coerce more false accusations. Ssempa and pastor Solomon Male are currently charged with filing false reports with the police. Nevertheless, there are fears that these latest allegations may lead to attempts to frame LGBT people and supporters with false accusations of death threats and kidnappings.
It is widely believed in Uganda that the Red Pepper sometimes runs stories at the behest of Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni, particularly the more salacious stories which would appear too unseemly for Uganda’s official state-run newspaper New Vision.
The Red Pepper’s web site is currently suspended by its internet host provider.