We have received word that the Ugandan High Court issued a final ruling today barring the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name) from conducting its outing campaign of private LGBT individuals. According to a press release from the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the court ruled that the issue is not about homosexuality but “it is about the fundamental rights and freedoms” of private individuals. The court found that “the call to hang gays in dozens tends to tremendously threaten their right to human dignity” and that the tabloid’s act “threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their home.”
On October 2, Rolling Stone published a what they said would be the first part of a four part series exposing one hundred LGBT citizens in Uganda. The first installment included the call to “hang them” on the front cover and over the article itself. Uganda’s Media Council moved swiftly to order Rolling Stone to shut down after discovering that the tabloid had not properly registered with the authorities. The tabloid complied, but resumed publishing again on November 1 with a second installment of its outing series.
With each publication, more evidence emerged that the tabloid, which carried virtually no advertising, was receiving support from anti-gay sources. Strong circumstantial evidence suggests that anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa, who is wanted by authorities for his participation in an outing campaign against a rival pastor, was a driving force behind Rolling Stone’s activities. Seempa is currently sought by authorities for his actions in leveling accusations of homosexuality against rival pastors.
After the second expose in September, Sexual Minorities Uganda sought a court order barring Rolling Stone from outing individual private persons in Uganda. The court issued a temporary ruling on November and followed that with today’s permanent injunction preventing Rolling Stone and its managing editor, Giles Muhama from “any other publications of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants and homosexuals generally.” Human Rights advocates hailed the injunction for its “broad protection to other Ugandans who are, or who are perceived to be homosexual” and notes that the injunction provides an important precedent for other media outlets as well.