July 7th, 2010
Sexual Minorities Uganda has issued a statement concerning the beheaded gay activist hoax. I’ve included the statement after the jump. To say that knowing that this web site helped to propagate that hoax is humiliating would be an understatement. We’ve worked hard at BTB in establishing our credibility, and I believe that a key component of that is also to maintain an atmosphere of transparency and accountability when we get it wrong. Along the way, I’ve learned that some sources on the Internet are trustworthy, and others are not worth the electricity it takes to power their servers. Until now, I hadn’t had the need to pass judgment on Changing Attitude, but I think you can probably guess where I stand now.
For every story we publish, there are countless others that we pass on for many reasons. Some of those reasons include not making it past the “sniff” test, that sense that there’s something wrong with it. Sure, I could brag about all of the stories that we rejected because they were bogus, but none of that matters when this story managed to make its way past our imperfect B.S. detectors. The fact that other blogs jumped on this story several hours before we did is also meaningless considering that most of the web sites that picked it up afterwards sourced BTB for their posts. I must, and do, accept full responsibility for that. It’s the reward for being a trusted source for LGBT issues; it’s also the pitfall to getting it wrong.
This hoax is damaging for many reasons. The least of those concerns is BTB’s credibility and my good name. In the larger picture, that is expendable when compared to the real damage it can cause. This hoax can provide ammunition to our opponents who would try to use it as proof that LGBT people are deliberately spreading rumors and falsehoods. It can be used as a “crying wolf” case to dismiss future reports in which LGBT people are really attacked and killed. Anger over labeling a young dead man as “gay” in a country where such labels are an accusation could potentially lead to retaliatory attacks to defend his honor. The hoax’s existence could fuel unfounded suspicions over the young man’s “real killer.” The hoax can be used as an excuse to silence LGBT people, organizations, and news outlets. It can give someone an idea for a copycat crime. It can do so many other damaging things as well, and knowing that I was a part of its spread is something that I am deeply sorry for.
To all those who believed the hoax as much as I did, I offer my profound apology. And that apology goes out especially to the people of Uganda, and principally to Bishop Christopher Senyonjo and to the family and loved ones of the young man whose senseless murder was hijacked for the creation of this hoax.
July 7, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – UGANDA
Beheaded Ugandan NOT an LGBT Activist
This statement is in reference to the disturbing news reports that the Ugandan man who was found beheaded identified as Pasikali Kashusbe was a gay-rights activist working as a volunteer with Integrity Uganda.
SMUG nullifies these reports and we are not aware of any LGBTI activist who has been beheaded. However, details of the mutilated body are yet to be revealed by the Ugandan Police.
Speaking to the Chair of Integrity Uganda, Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo, “I have never worked with anyone who goes by the name Pasikali in my organization. I also did not make any comments as quoted in earlier statements made by Rev. Erich Kasirye, Rev. Erich Kasirye no longer has any legitimate connection to Integrity Uganda and the e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org is no longer available as a link to the leadership of Integrity Uganda”.
SMUG stands in solidarity with Bishop Ssenyonjo, who has worked and supported SMUG and the entire Ugandan LGBTI community for a long period of time.
Integrity Uganda which is a member organization of Sexual Minorities Uganda is a faith-based LGBT organization which gives counseling and guidance to LGBT people.
SMUG disassociates the Ugandan LGBT community from these reports, until we have substantial information.
1. Frank Mugisha
Executive Director – SMUG
Tel: +256 772 616 062
2. Bishop Ssenyoonjo
Chairperson – Integrity Uganda
Tel: +256 772 448 958