Ugandan Tabloids Continue Outing Campaigns
March 1st, 2014
The ink was barely dry on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act when Uganda’s notorious tabloid Red Pepper launched a massive outing campaign on Tuesday, revealing the names, addresses and places of employment for as many as two hundred LGBT Ugandans, many of whom were private citizens who had never disclosed their sexuality publicly, and some of whom, undoubtedly, may have been falsely identified. Red Pepper followed that on Wednesday with more front-page headlines promising “new pictures of gays inside” along with an alleged threat that “homos vow to shed blood over M7 law.” (“M7” is a common shorthand for President Yoweri Museveni’s last name.). That same day, a rival tabloid, Hello, featured a front page screaming, “Defiant! Top City Homos Throw Mega Bash.”
Red Pepper‘s reign of terror has continued unabated all week, with some issues coming out as much as a full day earlier than usual, and each with more salacious stories reputedly “exposing” Uganda’s gay underground. Thursday’s Red Pepper included a cover story warning that “Homos go to court over anti-gay law.” That same day, Red Pepper rushed out its Friday edition, which twisted earlier interviews and statements from Ugandan LGBT advocates and turned them into potentially violence-inciting anti-gay propaganda. The same issue also claimed to have stories of Ugandan celebrities “spill(ing) gay secrets.”
Saturday’s edition, which was out by 2:00 p.m. Friday, included a spread featuring photos, names and addresses of LGBT Ugandans were allegedly part of a “homo cabinet.” The same issue boasted another feature titled, “How to prevent your child from becoming a homo.”
Sunday’s edition of Red Pepper was rushed out Saturday afternoon, which included more outing allegations by anti-gay pastor Solomon Male. You may recall that Male, while deeply anti-gay, opposed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, charging that it was providing cover for prominent people in Uganda’s government who were supposedly “luring” children in to homosexuality. I don’t have many details of Male’s charges in this edition, except that it includes more “outing” allegations of private and public individuals. The same edition also included an extensive section alleging that foreign non-nongovernemntal organizations (NGOs), as well as allegations concerning gay students in schools.
Red Pepper is an old hat at these anti-gay vigilante campaigns. In April 2009, just one month after Scott Lively’s highly influential anti-gay conference in Kampala, Red Pepper published a list of names, photos, occupations and other identifying information — their “killer dossier,” as they put it – of more than fifty Ugandans they accused of homosexuality. Red Pepper followed in December, two months after the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into Parliament, with another so-called “exposé” of “city tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos.”
There are currently unconfirmed reports of arrests, beatings, and hospitalizations of LGBT Ugandans and their relatives. Getting conformation about these reports is proving extremely difficult, as virtually all LGBT Ugandans are hunkered down and remaining out of sight:
“The community is very scared, very worried,” said Dickson Mujuni of the RPL AIDS Foundation during a telephone interview from Kampala, the Ugandan capital. “They’re underground.”
…This reporter initially asked Mujuni to speak with him on Skype, but he said those in the Internet café would have potentially assaulted him if they heard him talking about LGBT-specific issues.
“That’s how bad the situation is,” Mujuni told the Blade. “Even when you’re receiving a phone call, you have to talk in such a way that the person next to you does not understand exactly what you’re talking about because if you’re very open in your conversation, it’s very unpredictable. Anything can happen because here we have mob justice… if you’re Skyping and you’re talking about that, you could get beaten up.”