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Barred from “Outing” Campaigns, Ugandan Tabloids Turn To Gay-Baiting And Imaginative Conspiracy Theories

Jim Burroway

November 13th, 2010
November 13 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Saturday Onion": "30 gals join campus lesbian club"

November 13 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Saturday Onion" (Click to enlarge).

Two weeks ago, Uganda’s High Court ordered a halt to the anti-gay vigilante campaign that was being waged by the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine by the same name). Even though that order only applied to Rolling Stone, it appears that other publications may have taken that order as a shot across the bow as another tabloid Onion (also no relation to the U.S. satirical newspaper by the same name) halted its own vigilante campaign as well. The tabloids have instead turned to more traditional forms of gay-baiting. While these latest examples aren’t as individually threatening to the country’s LGBT citizens, they nevertheless continue to feed into anti-gay fears and stereotypes, contributing to the overall deteriorating climate for sexual minorities overall.

A reader in Kampala sent us updates of two tabloid editions published over the weekend. Saturday Onion came out with a sort of a “girls gone wild” theme this weekend, with a story about an alleged “lesbian club” at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University “for purely gals who hump fellow gals.”

Saturday Onion: "Lesbian club opens at university."

Page 2 of the November 13, 2010 edition of Saturday Onion (Click to enlarge).

The article isn’t just very salacious, it’s also obviously the product of an extremely active imagination. It repeats the widely-believed claim that the club’s sole purpose is to recruit unsuspecting young women into homosexuality. “These gals are said to be well equipped with training videos, manuals, magazines and audio CDs, which they use to orient the gals and equip them with the best techniques of sexual satisfying fellow women,” the unnamed “reporters” write. It describes a sexual position which allow them to “easily please each other as their yoyos tickle.”

The article closes with the oft-repeated rumor that the only reason homosexuality exists in Uganda is because of foreign influence. “These Lesbos are said to be financed by NGOs from the Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, and are very loaded, so they can do anything they want anywhere.” But in typically careless fashion for Ugandan tabloids, the article abruptly ends mid-sentence before the writer could “smoke out some of these wicked gals and…”

I’m not much of a feminist theorist. I think this is probably about the first time the word “misogyny” has ever gone from my fingertips to the keyboard. But I will have to thank feminist theorists for the word as I cannot find any other to describe the contents of Saturday Onion. It is filled with insecurities over the mysteries of women’s sexuality. Another article purports to describe a hitherto unknown sexual technique called “kunyaz” or “Western Jazz,” which purportedly can bring a woman to orgasm within three to five minutes, a time frame undoubtedly chosen to set insecure straight men’s minds at ease.

November 13 edition of Saturday Onion: "Pastor Ssempa lost sponsors over homos."

Click to enlarge.

Onion has another interesting report for those who follow the antics of Ugandan anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa. He has apparently acknowledged to the tabloid that “since he waged war on bum drillers, funds slipping into his church project have drastically dwindled.” Over the past year, several of Ssempa’s U.S. backers have publicly announced that they have dropped their financial support for Ssempa over his promotion of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. That bill, which at last report is still in committee in Parliament, would impose the death penalty on gay people under certain circumstances, and would throw relatives of gay people into prison for three years if they failed to report their loved ones to police. According to Onion, “Ssempa is very bitter about dime not flowing into his church anymore from the Netherlands and other countries like it used to.” Cue the violins.

"Rolling Stone": "Homo generals plotted Kampala terror attacks."

November 15, 2010 edition of "Rolling Stone": "Homo generals plotted Kampala terror attacks." (Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone, having been warned explicitly by High Court against outing gay individuals, is throwing its own little tantrum. In their latest issue, the tabloid features an utterly delusional front page story alleging that “Homo generals plotted Kampala terror attacks.” That article claims, “Bloodthirsty generals in the evil homosexuality world plotted the bloody bombing of Kyaddondo Rugby Grounds and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala on July 11.”

That attack, which occurred while Kamapala residents were watching the World Cup finals on large television screens erected at the park, killed at least 64 people including one American. Al-Shabaab, the radical Somali Islamic insurgency group with ties to Al-Quaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack. That attack, in essence, is Kampala’s own equivalent to the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.; the Madrid attacks of March 11, 2004; and the London attacks of July 7, 2007.

Rolling Stone’s farcical conspiracy theory hearkens to the Holocaust revisionism of American anti-gay activist Scott Lively, who claims that the Nazi movement was, at its core,an entirely homosexual movement, and that the inevitable result of equality for LGBT people would be the dictatorial imposition of violent fascism. At a talk that he gave in Kampala in March of 2009, Lively also blamed the 1994 Rwandan massacre on gay men.

November 15 edition of "Rolling Stone": "Homosexual generals plott Kampala terror attacks."

Page 2 of the November 15 edition of "Rolling Stone" (Click to enlarge).

We don’t know if the people behind Rolling Stone attended that talk or are otherwise familiar with Lively’s discredited attempts at historical revisionism, but this article certainly takes its cues from a very similar brand of paranoia. The tabloid alleges that the Kampala bombings were an act of retaliation by foreign homosexuals who “were expressing their dissatisfaction with government for not respecting their rights.” They also, according to Rolling Stone, chose the two venues because “homosexuals feel hurt when they see  heterosexuals having fun… They seethe with revenge.”

Getting Al-Shabaab and Al-Quaeda, perhaps two of the most virulently homophobic terrorist groups in the world, to cooperate with this incredible gay conspiracy would be an astonishing feat. But logic isn’t very high on the minds of Rolling Stone. Their true anger is over the High Court decision to prevent Rolling Stone from publishing the names and faces of private LGBT Ugandans. They write:

None of the homosexuals whose faces we published recently was responsible for the carnage. …

…Kampal High Court Judge Kubuuka Musoke Monday issued an interim in junction on Rolling Stone, barring this investigative newspaper from publishing any information that could lead to the identification of homosexuals. This means Rolling Stone, which is managed by law-abiding citizens, can not publish particulars of this who were behind the sinister plot.

In other words, Rolling Stone is saying let us publish the names and faces of private citizens, or we’ll go completely batshit crazy. From the looks of Giles Muhame’s incoherent editorial on page 5 of the same edition, he is already nine-tenths of the way there. If you want to bother with it, you can see that feverish editorial here.



Mihangel apYrs
November 13th, 2010 | LINK

one would have thought that “homosexual generals” having initiated their commands into “teh ghey” would have wioed out the editorial boards and journalists of these two rags, along with Sampa.

November 13th, 2010 | LINK

Why can’t these tabloids come up with original names!?!

Awww! That is just too bad for Pastor “Eat-da-poo-poo!” Gay Ugandans are about to be written out of the country’s constitution and he’s bitter about receiving less foreign aid? Tough sh#t, a-hole!

Leonardo Ricardo
November 13th, 2010 | LINK

I SEE, I think I got-it..Has Scott Deadly Lively been doing a little Gay-Nazi repackaging and peddling it as fact to keep the Ugandan warped sex-minds, and many are, on their heterosexual twinkled/pickled toes? Is alcoholism running rampant in Holy Kampala?

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

Unbelievable, am wondering whether this is going anywhere. Being a Ugandan, Gay and have been part of policy making and change, there is a bigger posibility of changing the situation but again, am so scared for the first about this article.

The time i have worked with government and faced different tragedy, i learnt one thing about our administration, anything to do with security is highly considered.

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

Astonishing, isn’t it. With the very real twin threats of the LRA, and Al-Aqqaba on their doorstep, they would prefer to focus their time and money on this rubbish. Worse: that Uganda seemingly has no media laws or Commission to control such a ludicrous, dangerous waste of time.

Still: the more absurd it gets, the more the average Ugandan will realise how nonsensical it all is. Hopefully.

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

Another article purports to describe a hitherto unknown sexual technique called “kunyaz” or “Western Jazz,” which purportedly can bring a woman to orgasm within three to five minutes, a time frame undoubtedly chosen to set insecure straight men’s minds at ease.

Shouldn’t that be “insecure and naive straight men”? Even I know that it’s not how fast you get a woman to orgasm that’s important in giving her a good time, but how long you keep her there, and that requires rather more skill.

Of course, many straight men seem to be threatened by any concept of sexuality even slightly different from their own, so perhaps that explains their naivete – and the millions (if not billions) of women consigned to a life of mediocre (if they’re lucky) sex.

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

Amazing that this is happening in Africa and yet manages to reek of very American attitudes of anti-intellectualism besides homophobia AND John Birch Society-esque sensationalism.

The sheer paranoia and stupidity of it all really does resemble the Anti-communist craziness of the 50’s. Why doesn’t it register that gay people are a minority everywhere and persecuted in a lot of places? Yet they claim there’s a virtually all-powerful gay conspiracy? One of these things is NOT like the other.

More to the point isn’t it kind of stupid to slap the Al Shabaab bull on the nose like that? Most likely if THEY find out their bombing is being said to be the work of gays, they will think the Ugandans are calling *Them* gay. Of course then if the “Onion” or the “Rolling Stone” gets blown up by Al Shabaab, then they’ll try to lie about who did it again I’m sure.

I don’t see this madness ending well.

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

@ BlackDog

Hmmm, so Al Shabaab bombs the “Onion” or “Rolling Stone” in return for being called a bunch of fags, and as a result those two “newspapers” are unable to continue their vendetta. I see little (if anything) for us to lose from this, and quite a lot to gain. All we have to do is sit back and wait.

November 14th, 2010 | LINK

Right, but you know they’d find a way to blame Teh Gay and if the Onion/Rolling Stone/Whatever aren’t up and running again within the week, some other tabloid that’s not fit to be used for toilet paper will pick up the slack.

snark/ Of course, maybe Money Shot Martin could invest some of his declining funds in a security company? That way the For-Profit Prophet could get back some of his lost revenue, I mean, if they really believe all this BS about homosexual generals…that shouldn’t be too tough of a job, should it? How tough can they be? /snark

November 15th, 2010 | LINK

I think Jim is right in opening the door to letting feminist theory explain this appalling persecution of gay, bisexual, and lesbians in Uganda.

This tabloid’s obsession with homosexuality is a blatant form of gender policing for purposes of maintaining male supremacy in the country. Uganda is a patriachal society with divided gender roles and where women have fewer rights and opportunities for economic independence than men.

Men and women who have sex with members of the same sex subvert this man-on-top gender hierarchy and are, therefore, going to be targets for persecution. At their core, many (all?) LGBT issues are also gender issues.

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