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Posts for February, 2011

Wikileaks Posts Cables from US Embassy in Uganda Concerning Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2011

[Update: As Paul Canning points out, these cables were originally released more than a week ago on the Spanish daily El Pais.]

The Guardian (UK) today posted cables provided by Wikileaks from the U.S. embassy in Uganda concerning that nation’s consideration of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. In an accompanying article, The Guardian highlighted murdered LGBT rights advocate David Kato’s reluctant participation in a UN-sponsored debate in December, 2009, in which he was mocked during his speech. According to the cables,

(Kato) delivered a well-written speech against the bill, but his words were almost inaudible due to “his evident nervousness”. Throughout his talk a member of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission “openly joked and snickered” with supporters of the bill, the diplomat claimed in the cable.

The Christmas Eve, 2009 cable provide more context:

Bahati’s late arrival delayed the event for more than an hour, and the UHRC failed to seat any representative of those opposed to the legislation at the head table, despite seating Bahati and – for unexplained reasons – Uganda’s most outspoken anti-gay activist Martin Ssempa. A comment by an audience member later prompted the UHRC to correct this imbalance by inviting a clearly hesitant and nervous SMUG leader, David Kato, to sit beside Ssempa on the dais. Ssempa proceeded to shake Kato’s hand while striking absurd poses for the assembled press corps.

Bahati’s remarks mirrored his private statements to PolOffs. Bahati also attacked the White House statement opposing the bill, saying that he admires President Obama, that President Obama ran on a platform of change, and that Uganda’s message to him is that “homosexuality is not a change but rather an evil that we must fight.” At this point the room erupted in loud applause, led by Ssempa pounding his hand on the head table, and Bahati observed that oil revenues will free Uganda of foreign entanglements. At other points in Bahati’s tirade against homosexuality, Ssempa registered his support by issuing audible sounds of disgust.

U.S. diplomat wrote of Bahati’s “isolation” following Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren’s condemnation of the bill. The diplomat wrote:

Recent condemnations by Warren and other U.S. based individuals have further isolated Bahati. His homophobia, however, is blinding and incurable. Bahati, Buturo, and particularly Ssempa’s ability to channel popular anger over Uganda’s socio-political failings into violent hatred of a previously unpopular but tolerated minority is chilling. XXXXXXXXXXXX described Ssempa as an anti-homosexuality “extremist.” XXXXXXXXXXXX said he opposes the legislation not because he favors homosexuality, but because legalizing persecution of homosexuals is the first step toward state sponsored persecution of other minority groups.

It’s not just other minority groups which were concerned, but the political opposition to President Yoweri Museveni’s 25-year rule as well:

In September, Otunnu accused state security services of running a smear campaign about his sexual orientation and HIV status to discredit a potential presidential bid (ref. D). XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated that Uganda could run a similar smear campaign against Besigye, forcing him to curtail presidential campaign activities.

XXXXXXXXXXXX said the opposition FDC fears Uganda will use the anti-homosexuality legislation against Besigye, and recalled government efforts to hobble Besigye’s 2006 presidential campaign by arresting him on spurious charges of rape, terrorism, and treason. XXXXXXXXXXXX speculated that Uganda could disrupt Besigye’s 2011 campaign with phony homosexuality allegations.

In a second cable dated February 10 and released by The Guardian, the U.S. diplomats in Uganda describe a meeting with local human rights activists whose names are redacted. The White House and the State Department had already by then condemned the bill. Activists expressed concerns that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was part of a larger effort to tilt tomorrow’s elections in favor of the entrenched ruling party:

XXXXXXXXXXXX placed the anti-homosexuality bill in the context of a general trend toward restricted human rights and democratic freedoms in Uganda. He said the anti-homosexuality bill is one of many regressive legislative initiatives that are not in the interests of all Ugandans and are intended to tilt the February 2011 presidential elections in the government’s favor. XXXXXXXXXXXX cited draft legislation to expand the Security Ministry’s monitoring of electronic communications, expanded and perhaps politically motivated enforcement of the 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act, the recently passed Land Amendment Act (ref. A), reduced press freedoms, and the slow pace of electoral reform as pressing human rights concerns. He encouraged the U.S. to treat these issues in the same manner as the anti-homosexuality bill, and said the anti-homosexuality issue is a government “gimmick” to divert attention away from other assaults on human rights and democratic freedoms that will ultimately undermine the integrity of the 2011 elections.

Uganda’s elections will be held tomorrow.

The cables go on to describe some of the fear and intimidation that the proposed legislation aroused in Uganda. The fear and intimidation extends beyond the beleaguered gay community, but goes into the political class as well:

XXXXXXXXXXXX said Members of Parliament who privately oppose the bill fear losing their seats if they speak out against the legislation, and therefore support the bill in public and will vote for it should it ever reach the parliamentary floor. XXXXXXXXXXXX said Bahati is blaming homosexuals for the spread HIV/AIDS, pornography, and increasing incidents of rape and defilement, and that the legislation is a diversionary ploy intended to steer attention away from real issues like corruption and the 2011 elections.

…Both XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX said local XXXXXXXXXXXX activists are using cellphones, blogs, and the internet to the extent possible, but stressed concerns about government monitoring of electronic communications. XXXXXXXXXXXX said one local human rights NGO had to switch its domain name after someone hacked its email address, and XXXXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXXXX said they and other activists have been forced to switch telephones and restrict electronic communications to avoid harassment and eavesdropping.

See also:
Feb 17, 2011: Wikileaks Posts Cables from US Embassy in Uganda Concerning Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Feb 17, 2011: More Wikileaks Cables on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 10, 2011: Wikileaks: Ugandan First Lady “Ultimately Behind” Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11: 2011: More On Ugandan First Lady’s Support For Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 11, 2011: Wikileaks: Vatican Lobbied Against Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Sep 12, 2011: Wikileaks on Uganda’s Homosexuality Bill: Museveni “Surprised” and Buturo “Obsessed”
Sep 12, 2011: Ugandan Presidential Aide Confirms Wikileaks Conversation
Sep 23, 2011: Ugandan First Lady Affirms Support For “Kill The Gays” Bill

Ugandan Government Follows “Rolling Stone” Script for Gay Panic Defense in David Kato’s Murder

Jim Burroway

February 9th, 2011

Uganda’s Media Centre, which acts as the official press office of the Ugandan government, has issued an official statement on its “investigation” of the motives behind LGBT Advocate David Kato’s murder. The details from the statement match very closely a conspiracy theory posted by the managing editor of a Ugandan tabloid which conducted a “Hang Them!” campaign last October featuring Kato’s picture on the front cover.

According to the official statement, Enock Nsubuga purportedly confessed to murdering Kato because Kato refused to pay Nsubuga for sex. The Police Inspector General,  Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura says their “investigation” presents “no indications that the deceased’ campaign against Homosexuality Bill, that is before Parliament was a contributing factor to his death. The police has not received any information pointing to a hate crime apart from speculation from the public.” He also warned against public vigilante campaigns in Ugandan media and denounced the recent “Hang them!” campaign waged by the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) that was waged last fall. He also cautioned against inflammatory statements by clergy.

Kayihura’s statement indicates that Nsubuga was arrested on February 2, which is nearly a full week after Rolling Stone managing editor Giles Muhame posted a nearly identical conspiracy theory surrounding Kato’s death on Facebook. Muhame named “Eden” Nsubuga as  the “DESPERATE prisoner whom (Kato) attempted to force into a cruel sex bang.” Muhame also alledged that “the embassies have been giving Kato dollars which he has been flashing around to seduce young boys” and that “it’s estimated he sodomized about 300 boys in his regime as ;king of sodomy honchos’ in the country.”

Ugandan officials came up with their similar explanation for Kato’s murder — which just happens to match Muhame’s outrageous theories — before they even brought Nsubuga in for questioning, which raises several red flags as to the integrity of the police investigation. Corruption runs rampant in Uganda, and the police are generally reviled both for their corruption and incompetence. In 2010, Uganda was ranked at number 127 out of 178 countries by  Transparency International, a ranking that placed Uganda below Egypt, Kazakhstan and Mexico.

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone, featuring a photo of David Kato (left) and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (right). (Click to enlarge.)

Last October, Kato’s face was emblazoned on the front page of the Ugandan Tabloid Rolling Stone. The story on the inside pages featured the headline, “Hang them: They Are After Our Kids!” David Kato, who was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Rolling Stone, preventing the further revelations of names, employers and residences of private LGBT people in Uganda.

It is unclear who provided the funds for Rolling Stone to publish. The 24-page publication contained almost no advertising. In the November 1, edition, Managing editor Giles Muhame taunted in an editorial, “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.” There are several indications that anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa is, at the very least, behind several of the stories published in the paper. Muhame and advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe both attend Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church.

Official endorsement of Muhame’s conspiracy theory neatly solves several problems for the Ugandan government. First, it gives them an explanation that allows them to defend the country against charges of endorsing violent homophobia against its LGBT citizens. It is also an explanation that allows Nsubuga to walk free whether he is innocent or guilty. If Nsubuga really is guilty, then the police have  pre-manufactured a defense for him which, in Uganda’s courts, is not only a virtual guarantee that he will walk away free, but he will be deemed a hero. And worse, if Nsubuga is actually innocent, his role as scapegoat for Kato’s murder will leave him relatively unscathed: he will still walk free and so will the real killer. Everybody’s off the hook, and everyone wins. Except justice.

“Kato” Means the Younger of Twins

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2011

David Kato (via Facebook)

That’s one thing I learned in a facebook message this morning, and it forms a part of GayUganda’s reaction today to the news that Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato was brutally murdered in his home yesterday. He writes:

We need to celebrate his life. Maybe that will take our minds off the desperate vulnerability of ours…. how quickly, how easily we can lose all, in the name of nothing, or something.But, it is a matter of fact that he lived his life. And, was happy. A gay man in Uganda.

…Maybe for the days when he was still alive to pester us with his demands, his beliefs in what he wanted to have done. He was a doer, and, in a difficult environment, he was an achiever. With scanty resources, he did what he could, and did it fairly well.

Of course he was a human being. Cantankerous, devious, quarrelsome.

But, he was a human being, a fighter, going to the police cells to look for those accused of being gay. Going to court to stand up for our rights.

Kato David Kisule. RIP. Wonder where his twin is.

The worldwide LGBT community is reeling over the loss of a fearless leader.

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone, featuring a photo of David Kato (left) and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (right). (Click to enlarge)

David Kato was a spokesperson as well as the Advocacy and Litigation Officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). He was one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!” His photo appeared on the tabloid’s front cover.

Uganda’s independent Daily Monitor reports that David was attacked in his home yesterday afternoon and beaten in the head with a hammer.  Residents told police that they saw a man entering David’s house, and then they saw him leave dressed in David’s shoes and a jacket that covered part of his face. Later, the neighbors became suspicious and went to check on David but found the door locked. After they forced their way in, they found him and rushed him to Mulago Hospital, but he died on the way.

It is not known right now whether his appearance in the tabloid or subsequent court action was related to his murder. The police spokesperson says police are investigating robbery as a motive, saying that items were missing in the home.The BBC reports that there had been several “iron bar” murders in the neighborhood, and that police have arrested several suspects.

But LGBT advocates who worked with him disagree. They note that he, along with several other LGBT Ugandans, had been the target of several death threats in the past few days, particularly in the aftermath of their court victory.

In a press release from Sexual Minorities Uganda, they “call on religious leaders, political leaders and media houses to stop demonizing sexual minorities in Uganda since doing so creates a climate of violence against gay persons. Val Kalende, the Chair of the Board at Freedom and Roam Uganda stated that “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”

LGBT Activists in Uganda point to a virulently anti-gay March 2009 conference put on by three American Evangelical activists for inciting the latest round of violence and intimidation against the local LGBT community. Among the three were Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, Exodus International board member Don Schmierer, and International Healing Foundation’s Caleb Lee Brundidge, who is a protege of ex-gay advocate Richard Cohen. Lively, who blamed gay men for the rise of Nazism and the Rwandan genocide, proudly declared his talk as being a “nuclear bomb” against LGBT advocacy in Africa. (You can read about all of the events of 2009 and early 2010 here.)

Later that same year, M.P. David Bahati introduced the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill in that nation’s Parliament. That bill, which remains under review Parliamentary committee, would impose the death penalty on LGBT Ugandans under certain circumstances and criminalize all advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people. It would also criminalize even knowing someone who is gay if that person fails to report their LGBT loved one to police within 24 hours. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18, and the bill is expected to be voted on after Parliament returns for a lame-duck session before the new Parliament begins in May. Bahati has admitted that it is his goal “to kill every last gay person.”

Click here to read Sexual Minorities Uganda’s press release

Ugandan LGBT Advocate Murdered; Had Been Named By “Hang Them” Tabloid

Jim Burroway

January 26th, 2011

David Kato (via Facebook)

We have learned that Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle was murdered today at his home in Kampala. Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has confirmed that the David’s body was identified at a hospital.

Update: I have also confirmed this with SMUG’s Pepe Julian Onziema, who identified David’s body in the hospital morgue. Police are investigating.

The details surrounding his murder are unknown at this time. He was reportedly beaten in the skull with a hammer at his home. We do not yet know whether it was a single assailant or a group of people, nor do we know any other circumstances surrounding his death.

Update: More details from Human Rights Watch:

Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato’s home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato’s lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone, featuring a photo of David Kato (left) and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (right). (Click to enalrge)

David Kato was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!” His photo appeared on the tabloid’s front cover.

LGBT Ugandans have lived under a menacing atmosphere for more than a decade. The anti-gay hysteria has increased significantly since the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into parliament in 2009. That bill, which remains under review Parliamentary committee, would impose the death penalty on LGBT Ugandans under certain circumstances and criminalize all advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people. It would also criminalize even knowing someone who is gay if that person fails to report their LGBT loved one to police within 24 hours. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18, and the bill is expected to be considered after Parliament returns for a lame-duck session before the new Parliament begins in May.

This horrendous murder adds to the fears that LGBT Ugandans regularly face over their safety. Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian asylum seeker in the U.K. has been threatened with deportation back to Uganda. Just yesterday, she received an ominous message from M.P. David Bahati, the author of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in which he said that Brenda must “repent or reform” when she returns home:

Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.

M.P. Bahati may be technically correct. They are simply killing homosexuals, not harassing them.

David has served as the Advocacy and Litigation Officer for SMUG since 2004, according to his facebook profile. He also attended the University of York where he studied Human Rights.

Update: Mourners are posting messages on David’s facebook wall.

Uganda’s High Court Ruling Against “Hang Them” Tabloid Campaign

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2011

Ugandan High Court ruling barring Rolling Stone from publishing names and addresses of private LGBT citizens (Click to download: 1.3MB/10 pages)

As we reported earlier this morning, Uganda’s high court released a ruling permanently prohibiting the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. publication by the same name) from continuing its public vigilante campaign against that country’s LGBT community. We now have the text of that ruling (PDF: 1.3 MB/10 pages), which was signed on December 30 by Judge Musoke Kibuuka.

Judge Kibuuka found that the actions of Rolling Stone violated the privacy rights of LGBT Ugandans, and as well as the right to human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment. Of the latter, Judge Kibukka wrote:

Upon that objective test, court would easily conclude that by publishing the identities of the applicants and exposing their homes coupled with the explicit call to hang them because “they are after our kids”, the respondents extracted the applicants from the other members of the community who are regarded as worthy, in equal measure, of human dignity and who ought to be treated as worthy of dignity and respect. Clearly the call to hang gays in dozens tends to tremendously threaten their right to human dignity. Death is the ultimate end of all that is known worldly to be good. If a person is only worthy of death, and arbitrarily, then that person’s human dignity is placed at the lowest ebb. It is threatened to be abused or infringed.

For the objective test, the court cited a Canadian case from 2002, when a man published an advertisement showing four scriptural passages next to an image of two stick men holding hands inside a circle with a line through it. The CBC notes that the decision was overturned by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in 2006. It’s unclear whether the grounds for that 2006 decision would have any bearing on the Ugandan case.

The court rejected Rolling Stones argument that because homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, the applicants were not eligible for protection because they were criminals:

It must be noted that this application is not about homosexuality per se. it is about fundamental rights and freedoms. However, court not agrees that section 145, of the Penal Code Act renders every person who is gay a criminal under that section of the Penal Code Act. The scope of section 145 is narrower than gayism generally. One has to commit an act prohibited under section 145 in order to be regarded a criminal.

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

This point may serve as fodder for those who support the passage of the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill. That bill greatly expands the definition of what constitutes homosexual behavior far beyond the sex act. It will also criminalize advocacy on behalf of LGBT people and make criminals of family members who refuse to report their loved ones to police. If that bill were to become law, merely bringing this case to court and arguing in defense of LGBT people could be taken as “promotion” of homosexuality, leading to fines and a sentence of between five to seven years. The bill may be brought to a vote during a lame-duck session of Parliament following the February 18 elections.

The court issued a permanent injunction against Rolling Stone, “their servants and agents, from any further publications of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants and homosexuals generally.” The order only applies to Rolling Stone, but human rights advocates believe that it may serve as a precedent for other tabloids to follow. Red Pepper and Onion (also no relation to the U.S. satirical newspaper by the same name) have also engaged in vigilante campaigns in recent months.

The judge awarded each applicant 1,500,000 Uganda Shillings (US$650) for damages, plus court costs.

Giles Muhume, Rolling Stone editor, remained defiant in the face of the court ruling. In a press release, he said that “homos had a short-lived smile today” but that Rolling Stone would appeal the decision. Calling the ruling a risk to media freedom, Muhume added, “The newspaper will fight homos on different fronts. Our supporters should remain strong –- the agents of the devil shall be defeated.”

Click here to read the Ugandan High Court’s decision.

Ugandan Court Bans Tabloid’s Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2011

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone. (Click to enlarge.)

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.”

November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone"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.

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.

Uganda Court Orders Tabloid To Halt Outing Campaign

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2010

The AFP is reporting that the a Uganda High Court judge has ordered the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) to immediately cease its outing campaign against that country’s LGBT citizens:

High Court judge Vincent Musoke-Kibuuka granted “an interim order restraining (Rolling Stone or any affiliated publication) from any further publication of the identity of any person perceived by them to be gay, lesbian or homosexual.”

Musoke-Kibuuka called the editorial material “an infringement or invasion of the right to privacy” of the individuals identified.

The order was sought by Sexual Minorities Uganda on behalf of LGBT people who were attacked following the paper’s first outing campaign nearly a month ago. Managing editor Giles Muhame reacted to the order on his facebook page:

I have heard on grapevine that Kampala high court today afternoon issued an injunction barring the mighty Rolling Stone from publishing information that could lead to the identification of homosexuals…..the newspaper has already achieved its objective….By the way this means we can write about homosexuality but not identify them….ok, understood…we are law abiding citizens….

It’s worth watching closely to see what he means when he says “we can write about homosexuality but not identify them.” Muhame told AFP:

“We will publish more pictures but in a diplomatic way, so that we can dodge the law,” he said. “We might not name them as homos, but the public will know what they are.”

Mohame resumed publication of Rolling Stone this morning despite not having received the proper license to do so from the Uganda Media Council. The tabloid was ordered to halt publication for failure to register with the authorities. It’s very likely that Rolling Stone will react with similar disregard for the law with this order.

A further hearing is scheduled for November 23. There were no lawyers present to represent Muhame or Rolling Stone at today’s hearing.

The anonymous blogger GayUganda celebrates the “small sweet victory” as a “milestone in gay rights in Uganda.”

Update: The text of the court’s order is provided below, and appears very comprehensive:

Click here to read the court’s order.

Ugandan Tabloid Resumes Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign

Jim Burroway

November 1st, 2010
November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid

November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Photo obscured by BTB.)

After nearly a month’s hiatus due to its failure to register with government authorities, the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. magazine by the same name) has resumed its promised anti-gay outing campaign against private LGBT citizens.

In the latest edition, Rolling Stone has apparently gone online to reproduce photos and other information from profiles of LGBT Ugandans posted on dating web sites. On the page two article titled, “More Homos’ Faces Exposed,” the so-called “investigative team” displayed a complete ignorance of default settings on profile pages, the clueless reporter writes, “The homosexuals say they intend to make love to interested men at least below the age if 99. This implies that even 90-year-old pensioners are welcome for sex.”

Page 2 of the November 1, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photo obscured by BTB.)

As amusing as this confusion may be, the real damage for LGBT Ugandans comes from the photos published on a two-and-a-half page spread following the main article. Unlike the previous edition however, there are relatively few names, addresses or places of employment published in this edition.

The so-called “investigative team” also has discovered the discredited American “researcher” Paul Cameron. Writing in their page-two article, the author writes:

According to Dr. Paul Cameron of a Colorado-based medical research institute, homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking as it reduces one’s lifespan by 24 years.”

Cameron has been censured numerous times for professional misconduct, most recently in 2007 by the Eastern Psychological Association when he falsely claimed to have presented a paper before the association’s annual convention. His so-called “Family Research Institute,” which he runs with family members out of his kitchen table, is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of only about a dozen anti-gay hate groups in the U.S.

The paper claims that gays in Uganda have a target “to recruit at least 1 million kids by 2012 — is your kid safe?” The paper also denies that they are seeking mob justice:

In fact we are sternly warning public not to attack homosexuals, though there is no such case on record, but to report them to police for action.

Editorial and photos from Page 4 of the November 1 edition of

Editorial and photos from Page 4 of the November 1 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photos obscured by BTB.)

On a page four editorial, managing editor Giles Muhame takes great pride in the dangerous controversy he’s created. He denies that publishing the names, addresses, and photographs of private citizens is an invasion of privacy. Referring of the numerous interviews he gave to foreign news services, Muhame writes:

I explained that the story was in “public interest” since a cross section of homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles. “For example if security learnt that one os assembling a bomb at his residence, would they fear to raid the place fearing ‘invasion or privacy?’” I asked a journalist who had come for an interview. In such extreme cases, especially where life is endangered, journalists are bound to forego “privacy” for the good of society.”

Muhame also denies that anyone was harmed as a result of last month’s outing campaign:

On inciting violence, the International Press Institute (IPI) was told lies that some homosexuals and lesbians had been attacked after the story. Amisingly, neither of them had photographs of their houses being pelted with stones or medical reports showing bodily injuries sustained from the attacks.

In fact, there are numerous reports of gays being attacked as a direct result of Rolling Stone’s earlier vigilante installment. This morning, LGBT advocates in Uganda have launched an official complaint against Rolling Stone before High Court in Kampala.

Pages 3 and 5 of the November 1 edition of

Pages 3 and 5 of the November 1 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge. Names and photos obscured by BTB.)

At only twelve pages, this edition of Rolling Stone is about half the size of previous editions. And the almost complete lack of advertising (there are only two ads) continues to raise questions about who is providing financial backing for the paper. In fact, in the page 4 editorial Muhame taunts, “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.” One clue over who is behind the vigilante campaign can be found in some of the rhetoric published in this edition. For example, in the page-two article, we find:

Homosexuality involves “fisting” where one puts a hand in the rectum and may end up destroying it, causing fatal injuries, inflammation and transmission of HIV. No wonder homosexuals usually seal the butts with tiny pillows — to save the shattered buttocks from pain if they were to sit on a wooden chair.

This passage contains striking parallels to the rhetoric of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who was famously derided the world over for his “eat da poo-poo” appearance on the Current TV documentary “Missionaries of Hate.” The article also names an unnamed source saying that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill,, which provides for the death penalty for homosexuality under certain circumstances, will be passed once Uganda becomes “an oil producer.” This, too, echoes the argument that Ssempa put forward on Uganda’s state broadcaster UBC last December.

Page 10 of the November 1, 2010 edition of "Rolling Stone." (Click to enlarge.)

But the largest clue — large enough to be a virtual smoking gun — is Ssempa’s photo splashed on an article on page 10, titled “Lesbians destroyed my life at age of 16 — Sandra.” The story consists of an interview by Ssempa with a so-called “ex-gay” by the name of Sandra Baggotte, who has been featured on Ssempa’s prior anti-gay rallies and media campaigns earlier this year. The interview also mentions Paul Kagaba, another so-called “ex-gay” associate of Ssempa’s who was behind a vigilante campaign waged by the rival Red Pepper tabloid last December.

Several clues from the October 2 edition of Rolling Stone also point to Ssempa’s active participation in this anti-gay media campaign as well.

[Update: Warren Throckmorton has learned from two independent sources that both both Giles Muhame and advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe both attend Ssempa’s Makerere Community Church. Together with the other evidence before us, it is impossible to see this as anything other than a Ssempa-driven and directed campaign.]

There are additional reports that a similar outing campaign is currently taking place in at least one other tabloid Onion (also unrelated to the U.S. satirical paper by the same name). We also hear that Red Pepper may also have launched a campaign as well. We’ll post more information on those developments as we receive them.

Last week, Ugandan M.P. David Bahati, the sponsor of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, has promised that the bill would become law before Parliament disbands before the 2011 elections. Several otherwise reputable news outlets have falsely reported that the anti-gay bill had been “withdrawn.” But as we’ve been consistently reporting, the bill has instead been sitting quietly in committee where it could be brought before the floor of Parliament at any time. Two weeks ago, Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo, another ardent supporter of the bill, promised that the bill would be passed “in due course.” Increasingly, it appears that this renewed media campaign is very likely intended to increase public pressure for the bill’s passage.

Uganda’s “Hang Them” Tabloid Returns

Jim Burroway

October 31st, 2010

Multiple reports indicate that Uganda’s Rolling Stone (no relation to the venerable U.S. publication by the same name) has hit the streets again following a nearly month-long haitus with another installment of its anti-gay vigilante campaign. According to editor Muhame Giles’ Facebook posting:

The Rolling Stone has again published 20 more pictures of homosexuals in Uganda. The early edition for monday is already on the street. Our kampala readers can pick copies from Petro (jinja road) and “sell-out” point -Bugolobi stage,” said Circulation chief Nicholas. There we roll….

The latest edition reportedly carries the headline, “More homos’ faces exposed.” Giles defended the tabloid’s outing campaign last week, saying, that homosexuality was “bigger than terrorism.  He also said, “we thought that by publishing that story, the police would investigate them and prosecute them and hang them.” Giles also claims that there have been no attack against LGBT people as a result of the previous campaign, despite verified reports to the contrary. It is very easy to imagine that should there be blood on his hands as a result of his irresponsible actions, he’ll rush another edition to print just to brag about it.

When people say that there is no such thing as evil personified, all you have to do is look at this man and see it in all its banality.

Uganda’s “Hang Them” Tabloid To Resume Publication

Jim Burroway

October 26th, 2010
"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

That’s the promise being made by the Muhame Giles, the editor of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), who posted this on Facebook earlier today:

An extraordinary meeting of The Rolling Stone management last nyt resolved we hit the streets this Friday irrespective of media council’s refusal to reconsider it’s decision of blocking our publication. We registered editor’s particulars on October15 but up to now they are “still consulting!!!” Our lawyers have given us a green light. Any attempts of confiscating the Stone will land someone in jail…U HAVE MY WORD.

Rolling Stone lauched a major anti-gay vigilante campaign earlier this month with an article that outed a couple dozen LGBT Ugandans, complete with photos gleaned from Gaydar.co.uk and Facebook. That article, accompanied with the headline “Hang Them”, promised to be the first of a four-part series. The tabloid, which was launched just five weeks earlier, had failed to register with Uganda’s Media Council, prompting an ordered shut down by authorities. That order came before the second part of the series could be published, but not before several LGBT people were threatened and forced to leave their homes.

The real Rolling Stone has denounced the tabloid as an “African impostor spread[ing] hate.”

Giles told the BBCthat he was acting in the “public interest,” saying Ugandans did not know to what extent that homosexuality was “ravaging the moral fabric of our nation.”

Ugandan Cabinet Minister: Anti-Homosexuality Bill Will Be Passed “In Due Course”

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2010

CNN has a story following up on the “Hang Them” outing campaign recently waged by the now-suspended tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. magazine by the same name). CNN spoke with LGBT advocate Julian Pepe, who said that in the aftermath of the outing campaign, Sexual Minorities Uganda is helping those who are being attacked:

“We are providing some with psychological support,” she said. “People have been attacked, we are having to relocate others, some are quitting their jobs because they are being verbally abused. It’s a total commotion.”

Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Butoro dismisses the reports that LGBT people are being attacked:

“They [the activists] are always lying,” Buturo said. “It’s their way of mobilizing support from outside, they are trying to get sympathy from outside. It’s part of the campaign.”

Buturo also told CNN that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been held in Parliamentary committee for most of the year, will be debated in Parliament and passed “in due course.” He added, “Of course I hope it passes.”

The bill, if passsed in its current form, would impose the death penalty on LGBT people under certain circumstances (including if the individual is HIV-positive or is a “serial offender”). It would also impose a three year sentence on anyone who failed to report an LGBT person to police within 24 hours of learning of that fact. The bill would also outlaw all free speech and advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people in Uganda, and provide for extradition of LGBT Ugandans living abroad for prosecution back home.

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

Meanwhile, the Ugandan tabloid which launched the latest outing campaign may be back in business soon. Paul Mukasa, secretary of the Media Council, said that the reason Rolling Stone was shut down was because they failed to file the required permits

“Until they fill in the required paperwork, they are breaking the law,” Mukasa said.

The secretary said the newspaper has initiated the process “to put their house in order.”

“Some rights groups have complained that the newspaper is inciting people, but the council is focusing on its lack of paperwork,” Mukasa said.

This contradicts what  Media Council’s Executive Secretary Haruna Kanaah told Voice of America yesterday, but it is consistent with the letter that was sent to Rolling Stone’s editors from the media council.

Which means that any day now, we may see Rolling Stone’s parts two through four of their vigilante campaign hit the streets again. The tabloid’s editor, Giles Muhame, defended the campaign, saying that he published the names so authorities could arrest those named. He also told VOA that journalists had a duty to expose the so-called ”evil in the Ugandan society,” and that the campaign will resume in upcoming issues once the paper resumes publication.

The Real Rolling Stone: “African Impostor Spreads Hate Agenda”

Jim Burroway

October 21st, 2010

 

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone. (Click to enlarge.)

The real, genuine Rolling Stone– the venerable U.S. cultural, music and entertainment bi-weekly founded in 1967 by Jann Wenner — has weighed in on the upstart impostor from Uganda that has captured so much attention the past three weeks:

A new newspaper out of Uganda bearing the name Rolling Stone has published one of the most vile and hateful anti-gay screeds we have ever read. The article printed the addresses and photos of 100 homosexuals in the country, calling for them to be hanged. Not only are we not affiliated in any way with the Ugandan paper, we have demanded they cease using our name as a title. But there is a larger issue at stake: Homosexuality is still a crime in much of Africa, often punishable by life in prison. “Half the world’s countries that criminalize homosexual conduct do so because they cling to Victorian morality and colonial laws,” says Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. “Getting rid of these unjust remnants of the British empire is long overdue.”

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

The fake Rolling Stone was shut down last week by Uganda’s Media Council over the failure of the tabloid’s owner to properly register the paper with the authorities. The Voice of America spoke with the Media Council’s Executive Secretary Haruna Kanaah, who said that the tabloid has also run afoul of the nation’s journalism code of ethics:

He says Uganda Rolling Stone, a weekly tabloid launched by a group of journalism graduates two months ago, is now being closely monitored.

“In Uganda, we have a journalism code of ethics, which is very clear,” said Kanaah.  “The media should be balanced, accurate and fair.  Intruding into people’s privacy, that is not journalism.  It is witch-hunting.”

Ugandan LGBT activists say that at least four people, including one woman named in the Oct 2 article, have been attacked. Some have been forced to leave their homes and go into hiding.

AP Notices Ugandan “Hang Them” Tabloid — Two Weeks Later

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2010

Front cover of the Oct 2, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone. Chances are you saw it here first. (Click to enlarge.)

If you’re a BTB regular, you might be forgiven if you thought you experienced a bit of déjà vu while reading this morning’s paper. The Associated Press today published a pretty good account of the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone(no relation to the U.S. magazine by the same name), which outed several dozen private LGBT citzens as part of their “Hang Them!” campaign. 

That hint of recognition you experienced may have come about becuase we were on this story two weeks ago, as we reported on the Rolling Stone’s unfolding anti-gay campaign with its October 2 issue. The front cover of the tabloid promised “100 pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos,” but the story beginning on page two only included eight photos gleaned from Facebook and Gaydar profiles along with personally-identifiable information — names (sometimes including full names), residences and employers — of about a couple dozen LGBT individuals. The article also said that it was to be the first of a four part series. It’s widely believed that a well-known anti-gay activist may be connected to the campaign, although he denies any involvment

The Associated Press fills in a few extra details

In the days since it was published, at least four gay Ugandans on the list have been attacked and many others are in hiding, according to rights activist Julian Onziema. One person named in the story had stones thrown at his house by neighbors. 

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

 

That single article alone was damage enough, but Rolling Stone threatened three more installments and everyone wondered what would come with the expected appearance of the October 9 edition. Fortunately the government stepped in to shut down Rolling Stone before the second installment of their “Hang Them” campaign could hit the streets. It turns out that Rolling Stone failed to properly register itself with the authorities. In a country where heavy governmental interference with the press is commonplace, that was a big no-no. 

The AP article confirms our suspicions that Rolling Stone may start publishing again once they get their registration issues resolved. However, that, too, is only conjecture, since the lack of official registration probably wasn’t the only problem. I’m told that the October 2 issue, which was the fifth edition since Rolling Stone’s late August debut, carried only two advertisements in its entire 24-page edition. One was a quarter-page ad for Uganda Telecom and the other was a small front-page ad for Blue Magic, Inc,. the printing house which printed Rolling Stone. Five weeks on, that’s not much of an advertising base. The AP puts their circulation at 2,000 issues, but at only 1,500 Uganda Shillings a pop (US$0.65), this paper was not destined to last — unless there are some very deep pockets backing it. 

Update: I missed it, but Warren Throckmorton caught something that the AP story got wrong. The AP said

A lawmaker in this conservative African country introduced a bill a year ago that would have imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others. An international uproar ensued, and the bill was quietly shelved. 

In fact, the bill has not been shelved. It was referred by Parliament to two committees: the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and the Committee on Presidential Affairs. As far as I know, neither committee has returned a report back to Parliament. Warren’s sources confirm to him that it is still in committee as well. After the committee(s) report back to Parliament, the bill would then have to undergo a second and third reading before a final vote. 

Parliamentary elections are slated for February and March of 2011, and in anticipation of breaking for campaigning, Parliament issued what they said was its agenda for the final session. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill did not make it to that agenda, and it has not appeared on the daily order papers.

Ugandan Tabloid Shut Down By Government

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2010
Letter from the Uganda Media Council to the editors of the Rolling Stone tabloid

Letter from the Uganda Media Council to the editors of the Rolling Stone tabloid. (Click to enlarge)

We just received word that Uganda’s Media Council has shut down the tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name), made infamous for the publication of its “Hang Them” outing campaign last week.

The Media Council, in a letter to managing editor Giles Muhame, says “There is no formal complaint before the Council as yet.” But citing a complaint made directly to Rolling Stone and copied to the Council, the Council says that “it has come to our knowledge that you published in contravention of Section 5 of the Press and Journalist Act (CAP 105) which makes you criminally liable.” The letter concludes:

The Council therefore informs you that the requirements of the Law must be adhered to before you can publish a newspaper and orders you to stop publishing “The Rolling Stone” until all the requirements of the Law are completed or face the full force of the Law.

It is unclear at this time whether this direction is being taken because of the outing campaign in the Rolling Stone edition cited in the letter, or whether there are other areas of the law (i.e. incorporation, registration, etc) which the tabloid is not in compliance with.

A new edition of Rolling Stone failed to appear at newsstands in Kampala last weekend. It was rumored that a new issue would appear on Friday, but that now seems doubtful.

Are these Martin Ssempa’s Fingerprints on the Latest Anti-Gay Campaign?

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2010

I broached that question this morning after reading Warren Throckmorton’s blog. Throckmorton had obtained more complete scans of the article that appeared in Uganda’s tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) with the screaming headline, “Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids!!” In the larger scan, we have the following quote attributed to Martin Ssempa:

We shall fight on until we rescue our country from the hands of evil. A lot of money from gay organizations is filtering in to destroy the morals of our kids. The was has just started,” said Sempa in an exclusive interview at his office in Kampala last night.

Given the wholesale myth-making that made up the rest of the article, Throckmorton asked whether Ssempa actually was interviewed by Rolling Stone, saying “If Ssempa did not give this interview, then he should immediately offer a public statement that he no longer believes in these tactics and fulfill his word to his supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.”

Martin Ssempa's email to governmental officials, as reproduced in Rolling Stone, Oct 2,2010.

Martin Ssempa's email to governmental officials, as reproduced in Rolling Stone, Oct 2,2010. (Click to enlarge)

Since that post this morning, a helpful reader in Uganda sent more scans from the same edition of Rolling Stone. Of particular interest is another article that appears on page six, immediately following the pictorial spread on pages 4 and 5 of LGBT Ugandans. That article by Giles Muhame, who is also identified elsewhere in the paper as Rolling Stone’s managing editor, is fully devoted to Ssempa’s demand that an audit of Uganda’s AIDS commission be made public.

I have no quarrel with Ssempa’s demand, as I haven’t been following this particular issue. In general, transparency is always critical to good governance and an important guard against corruption, and I hope HIV/AIDS NGO’s and doners are paying attention. But what is particularly interesting is that some five-sixths of this article consists of what is described as a “secret email” that Ssempa sent to Uganda’s Inspector General of Government and the Health Ministry. Rolling Stone reprints the entire email verbatim, including the email addresses.

There are only four email addresses listed in the reprinted email. The three “To” addresses are to the Ugandan government, which, according to Rolling Stone, is sitting on a “damning” audit report. The fourth email address, the “From” address is Ssempa’s gmail address, which happens to be the very same email account he used when he commented on BTB last March.

Given the circumstances of the controversy and the framing of it in Rolling Stone, there are only four sources where this email could have come from, and three of those sources would not benefit from its publication. Only one possible source benefits, and that is Martin Ssempa. On that basis, it appears almost certain that Ssempa fed Rolling Stone virtually the entire contents of the full-page article.

And if this is indicative of a close working relationship between Rolling Stone’s managing editor and Ssempa, then that helps to explain something else that is puzzling about the anti-gay vigilante expose published on page 2.

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids", published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge.)

Our helpful reader sent a full-page scan of the article titled “Hang Them; They Are After Our Kids!!” It’s a more complete scan than I was provided yesterday. Again, I have obscured names and places, as well as the photo. Except I left one name unobscured, that of an American journalist by the name of Katherine Roubos. Her “outing” is located at the top of the leftmost column:

KATHERINE RUOBOS [sic]: She used to work for Daily Monitor. She was deported on Pastor Ssempa’s influence. He reportedly contacted government officials who pressured the newspaper to take action. Katherine used to ask only gay-related questions at press conferences. At one time, she asked FDC boss Col. Kizza Besigye whether he would give gays powers to recruit more kids in their groups.

Katherine Roubos is an American citizen and resident. In 2007 she was journalism intern assigned to Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest and most reputable independent newspaper. Her byline appeared on a handful of stories covering a range of topics, but the story that caught Ssempa’s ire was one she published on August 16, covering first ever press conference held by an LGBT advocacy group in Uganda. (The Monitor’s story is no longer online, but a copy is available here.)

Daily Montor photo of Sexual Minorities Uganda's press conference in 2007

Daily Monitor photo of Sexual Minorities Uganda's press conference in 2007.

The press conference was groundbreaking. Conducted by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), many of the leaders and attendees famously wore masks in order to hide their identities. The message of the conference was simple: “Let us live in peace,” as they discussed HIV/AIDS, discrimination, and police brutality.

This came as a dual shock to anti-gay activists in Uganda. Not only was the press conference itself an unprecedented act of boldness, but Roubos’ coverage of it was wholly balanced and completely devoid of the typical stereotypes and sneering attitudes commonly expressed toward gay people in the popular press.

Demostrators demanding "Catherine" Roubos' deportation.

Demonstrators demanding "Catherine" Roubos' deportation.

Coverage in the government-owned New Vision was, surprisingly, similarly balanced. But for whatever reason (Roubos’ nationality maybe?) it was Roubos’ article that attracted Ssempa’s attention. Just a few days later, he organized a mass rally at a rugby field in Kampala to denounce the press conference and demand Roubos’ deportation. Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Buturo also spoke at that rally. As far as I am able to determine, Roubos has never been deported. (My attempts to contact her have been unsuccessful.) She stuck around at least long enough to finish another article co-written by LGBT advocate Val Kalende for Daily Monitor in late September, which documented a famous case of police misconduct and brutality — another landmark story in its own right.

That was more than three years ago. As far as I have been able to determine, she left the country when her three-month internship was up. I have no idea whether she’s been back or not. At any event, Ms. Roubos’ time in the Ugandan limelight is ancient history. But whoever contributed Roubos’ name to Rolling Stone certainly hasn’t forgotten her, and wants to make sure readers don’t forget that Ssempa was responsible for her “deportation.”

It’s very puzzling to see her name in these pages, considering that she is neither a Ugandan citizen nor resident, nor even relevant to Ugandans generally. Except, perhaps, for someone who still holds a grudge and never forgets a name. Even if he did spell her name wrong.

Was Martin Ssempa Behind The Latest Vigilante Campaign?

Jim Burroway

October 5th, 2010

Top: Canyon Ridge Community Church in Las Vegas. Bottom: Canyon Ridge's "dearly beloved family and friend."

Warren Throckmorton has some more scans of Monday’s edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) which lends credence to suspicions that pastor Martin Ssempa has played a hand in the story’s creation. The additional scans contain this segment which includes, first, a quote from an un-named “radical church leader” followed by a statement attributed to Ssempa:

“Unless government takes a bold step by hanging dozens of homosexuals, the vice will continue eating up the moral fibre and culture of our great nation. Unless a strong action is taken, the country will soon go to the dogs,” said a radical church leader who preferred anonymity.

Renowned anti-gay pastor Martin Sempa (sic) vowed to continue anti-gay demonstrations in the country with the view of combating perpetrators of the vice that threatens human race.

“We shall fight on until we rescue our country from the hands of evil. A lot of money from gay organizations is filtering in to destroy the morals of our kids. The was has just started,” said Sempa in an exclusive interview at his office in Kampala last night.

The suspicious character I mentioned last night who is believed to have obtained photos from Facebook is known to have worked with Martin Ssempa in anti-gay campaigns in the past. Warren Throckmorton notes Ssempa’s financial ties with Las Vegas’ Canyon Ridge Christian Church and has asked the church to verify the quote.

If Ssempa did not give this interview, then he should immediately offer a public statement that he no longer believes in these tactics and fulfill his word to his supporting church, Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.

Ugandan Tabloid May Have Used Facebook To Obtain Photos In Anti-Gay Vigilante Campaign

Jim Burroway

October 4th, 2010
Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone cover: "100 pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Lean -- Hang Them"

Front cover of the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Click to enlarge)

We have more information on the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) which promises to embark on a virulent anti-gay outing campaign. It appears that the tabloid, which published only eleven of its promised “100 pictures of Uganda’s top homos,” may have obtained some of the photos from Facebook profiles of ordinary LGBT people in Uganda and abroad.

Sources in Uganda express concern that they recognize some of the published photos as having been posted on the popular social networking site. Many believe that someone posing as a gay man may have “friended” some in the LGBT community in order to obtain private information and photos, which were then turned over to Rolling Stone for publication. One name in particular has surfaced, someone who was involved with last year’s anti-gay outing campaign. We are unable to confirm those concerns, but given the circumstances behind this campaign and knowing the involvement of key people in previous mass outing campaigns, I think those suspicions are not without basis.

[Update: According to additional scans obtained by Grove City College professor Warren Throckmorton, Rolling Stone acknowledges that some of the photos also came from Gaydar, a popular U.K. based dating website.]

[Update (Oct 16): The anonymous blogger GayUganda confirms that some of the photos were obtained from facebook profiles]

Photos published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone. (Photos obscured by BTB)

Photos published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone, along with a description of lymphogranuloma-venereum, "a disease associated with homosexuals." (Photos obscured by BTB)

The October 2 edition of Rolling Stone only outed a few dozen people so far, but the tabloid promises that their list will be continued in the next issue, in what they describe as a four-part series. Of the names mentioned in this edition, some of them make no sense. One person “outed” by the paper is an American journalist who no longer lives in Uganda. Another person who was fully named — by first name and last — had “quit lesbianism.” Rolling Stone added, “She told our investigators ‘I am a changed girl.’ She is now married with a baby girl.”  It’s puzzling that this woman was identified along with the name of her very small village in Western Uganda — and deeply troubling.

As we said earlier, the tenor of this outing campaign is even more vicious than those conducted by the notorious Red Pepper tabloid, which Rolling Stone appears to see as its chief rival. This time, Rolling Stone‘s front cover headline includes the admonition to “hang them,” while inside the pages they included many people’s surnames in their descriptions, a practice that Red Pepper had avoided.

It was in the aftermath of last years’ conference put on by three American anti-gay activists that the Red Pepper joined a similar vigilante campaign instigated by conference organizers. During that campaign, we began to receive reports of mobs attacking LGBT people in the streets and police making arrests.

"Uganda's Top 100 Homos" published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names and places obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

"Uganda's Top 100 Homos" published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB. Click to enlarge)

It remains to be seen whether this campaign will take hold or not, but Rolling Stone isn’t leaving anything to chance. They’ve chosen a two-pronged approach to stoking anti-gay hysteria. In addition to outing specific people, Rolling Stone published an incredibly fanciful “investigation” into the gay community. According to their imaginary findings:

Our research showed that most gays meet along Jinja Road based [redacted bar name] in Kampala. They usually gather at this place on Fridays for meetings and recruitment. It’s here that they assess the performance of their recruitment drives and initiate new members.

During these meetings, new members are given nick names they will use in gay circles. … Research also revealed that graduates are the biggest target as they are desperate for opportunities of earning a living. They are promised jobs in gay organisations abroad, monthly allowances and connections to rich gays residing in United States, Norway, Canada and United Kingdom.

The new members are also provided with gay blue movies,a list of gay websites and telephone numbers of representatives of gay organizations.

At the end of every month, gays usually gather at homes of gay organization leaders… Wine is popped and sometimes gays engage in orgies. …We have accessed secret videos of top citizens enjoying steamy gay sex.

This newspaper also discovered that most secondary schools and tertiary institutions have been penetrated by gay activists to recruit kids… The curriculum has been altered to include gay-promoting ideals with the view of brainwashing kids toward bisexual orientation. An informer said so far 10,000 secondary students have been recruited while 100,000 graduates have been enlisted in gay organizations.

This plays into two popular myths promulgated by anti-gay forces in Uganda. The first myth is that the LGBT community represents a vast, well-organized conspiracy to recruit children into homosexuality. The second myth is that homosexuality is a Western import, facilitated by wealthy gay people abroad. After naming several local and international NGO’s which are allegedly part of this imaginary conspiracy, Rolling Stone adds:

An insider said that organizations receive funding in billions which is now used to eat into the moral fabric of kids.

August 23 issue of Rolling Stone

The inaugural edition of Rolling Stone, August 23, 2010.

Rolling Stone’s debut occurred just five weeks ago on August 23. The top headline in its inaugural edition was “Rwenzori mineral water full of feaces,” a description that would aptly fit the fledgling scandal sheet. The editors trumpeted their new rag in a page 2 editorial:

Our esteemed readers, the much-awaited savior – The Rolling Stone newspaper, is born today. We have liberated you from the monopoly of half-baked news, inaccurate reports, deliberate misinformation and agents of propaganda and populism. Under our motto “Nothing But The Truth”, we promise to strip all facts bare and leave no stone unturned in exposing the evils in our cherished society without fear or favour.

And black is white and up is down, in the greatest tradition of tabloid “journalism.” The most amusing part is where the editors get to their qualifications:

Based along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road in Kampala, Rolling Stone is the only newspaper in the country owned and managed by three youthful men who have attended Mass Communication lectures at Makerere University.

Clearly, the six people named in the editorial — Managing editor Giles Muhame, Editor Joseph Bahingwire, Advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe, Brand Manager Benjamin Rukwengye, HR Manager Collins Murangira, and Circulation “Expert” Nicholas Mwesigwa — hadn’t bothered to actually graduate from a journalism program, let alone pass a single course in ethics.

That inaugural issue also carried a mild preview of the gay-baiting that was to come, with a comparatively timid article claiming that an un-named mayor was “suspected to be gay.” But even in that brief one-paragraph article on page five, Rolling Stone covers all the bases of anti-gay myth-making:

We have information that the politician, who travels abroad almost thrice a month, has been holding gay meetings with a top city pastor and homosexuals in the United States. At his home, we are told, he maintains a separate room where he meets male visitors. It’s also rumoured that he receives lots of dollars from US and Scandinavian countries to boost gay activities in Uganda. He also recruits young children into gay organizations under the guise of education sponsorships overseas. This eloquent man applies “make up” on his face.

Red Pepper, Sept 24, 2010

The September 24, 2010 edition of Red Pepper featuring asylum seeker Moses Mworeko on the front cover (Click to enlarge)

It’s now five weeks later and that timidity has worn off.

Last week, the more established tabloid Red Pepper published an appalling distortion of an interview originally published in Washington, D.C.’s Metro Weekly by Ugandan asylum seeker Kushaba Moses Mworeko. This week, we have this Rolling Stone’s clarion call to hunt down and lynch LGBT people, in precisely the kind of vigilantism that has been Red Pepper’s trademark. It’s not a stretch to see Rolling Stone’s effort as a direct challenge to Red Pepper, to demonstrate which tabloid can be the most sensationalistic and the most homophobic.

This raises the ugly possibility of a circulation war breaking out with LGBT Ugandans bearing the brunt.  We already noticed that Red Pepper’s Stanley Nduala, who had written many of that paper’s outing articles, drives a shiny Mercedes. Exposing gay people to mortal dangers and calling for their deaths is a proven pathway to great riches in Uganda for reporters and newspaper editors. And for Pentecostal preachers with ties to U.S. megachurches. That works just as well.

Update: It appears that Ugandan pentecostal pastor Martin “Eat Da Poo Poo” Ssempa, who has close financial ties to Las Vegas-based Canyon Ridge Christian Church, may have played a role in this latest campaign.

“Hang Them”: Another Wave of Anti-Gay Vigilantism Strikes Uganda

Jim Burroway

October 4th, 2010
Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone cover: "100 pictures of Uganda's Top Homos Lean -- Hang Them"

October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Click to enlarge)

A new tabloid appeared on the streets of Kampala, Uganda about a month ago, and they appear intent on displacing the notorious Red Pepper as the leader of vigilante mobs against the country’s beleaguered gay community. The latest tabloid, Rolling Stone (no relation to the American publication of the same name), has published several photos and names along with other identifying information in outing private LGBT citizens and others who are accused of homosexuality.

Rolling Stone has upped the ante considerably over previous vigilante campaigns by attaching the tagline “Hang them” on the front cover. Previous Red Pepper campaigns typically revealed first names and general descriptions of their residences and places of employment. Rolling Stone goes further by including surnames for many of those who are being forcibly outed, as well as numerous photos. The article also promises that their list is “to be continued in the next issue.”

One of the two photos on the cover is that of retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who is married and a father and grandfather. He has been a tireless advocate for LGBT people since his retirement, and has suffered tremendously for it. In 2001, Bishop Senyonjo received numerous death threats because of his advocacy, requiring him to remain in exile in the United States for about six months.

The anonymous blogger GayUganda was the first to note this latest round of anti-gay outings in a post this morning. Since then, we have received photos of other pages of the paper from other sources, but because of the danger they pose to those exposed, we cannot post them at this time.

I will have much more on this later this evening.