Remember back at a time when, if anyone were to stand up for gay people, they would be accused of being gay themselves? It’s been a long time since that’s been a common occurrence here in the U.S., although I’m sure it still happens. In Uganda, however, it happens in the papers. The tabloid, Red Pepper, which has a long history of dangerous anti-gay “outings,” has taken that tactic when a popular singer, Keko, criticized President Yoweri Museveni’s announcement that he will sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Red Pepper says Keko took to social media saying, “If Sevo signs the anti-homosexuality bill, we are always going to be third world. Development is tolerance.” And then promptly “outed” her:
For over the years it has been rumored that female rapper Keko is a lesbian.
It has been claimed that the singer is in a gay relationship with fellow singer Sheeba Karungi, and actually stay together in a rented apartment in Kiwatule.
Neither of the two has ever denied the allegations. And now Keko has almost confirmed these allegations by blasting the president over the anti gay bill.
I put “outed” in quotes because I know nothing about Keko. I have no idea whether she’s gay, straight, or anywhere in-between. While I can understand that for the sake of visibility, that kind of detail would matter. But in a country like Uganda, that’s a first world luxury that gay people can’t afford. Here, the retaliation isn’t in the “outing,” but something far more sinister where being called a lesbian is an accusation of criminal activity rather than just a description of someone’s romantic leanings.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill will criminalize all advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people with five to seven years’ imprisonment. Any day now, Keko’s tweet may become a criminal offense. But until that day comes when official sanctions can be applied, rags like the Red Pepper will be happy to provide plenty of unofficial sanctions.