Ugandan newspaper continues outing strategy

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A tabloid newspaper in Uganda has responded to last month’s first ever press conference by gay rights advocates in the country by printing lists of people it says are gay.

Red Pepper’s Sunday edition (click here to view) ran its “expose” of prominent gay and lesbians, under the headline “HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City.”

They claimed to have “full names, workplaces, cars they drive and even where they stay.”

As well as describing 40 men it claims are gay, Red Pepper’s expose explains “how to spot a gay man,” “terminologies used by gays” and “how the gay men shaft,” a lurid description of gay sex.

It claims that lubricants are “sent to the gays here from abroad.”

The paper is notorious for its sensationalist reporting on gay and lesbian issues, and was widely condemned last year for previous “outings.”

However, sources in the capital Kampala report that gay rights activists have decided to ignore this latest provocation, despite the fact that the 40 men named in the article are in danger of being targeted.

Maxim Anmeghichean, programme director for International Lesbian and Gay Association Europe, has just returned from Uganda.

“No Ugandan to my knowledge has complained to the Ugandan government about the publication,” he said in an email.

“Or to the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity or relevant bodies monitoring media like the Media Council.

“And in absence of any national pressure letters to embassies and Ugandan authorities from abroad may be strategically awkward and support the idea promoted by the government that the fight for LGBT rights in the country does not belong to Ugandans and is promoted by the West.”

The idea that homosexuality is a “Western” disease is common currency in many African communities.

There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the last year, including an illegal police raid on the home of the lesbian leader of Uganda’s LGBT movement, Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005.

“This article fingers those named for physical attack,” Cary Alan Johnson, senior Africa specialist for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), told Gay City News.

“There is a comprehensive campaign being waged against LGBT rights in Uganda.

“It includes government and conservative religious leaders. Now the lower end of the media – rags like Red Pepper – are adding their hate-filled voices.”

The outing is the latest in a series lurid, sensationalist homophobic exposes by Red Pepper.

Last month Ugandan gay rights advocates gave a press conference for the first time. Red Pepper’s latest outing is a clear response to this event.

“Since the gay community in Uganda has shown us that they really want to be recognised, we are saying enough is enough,” the outing article reads.

“Today we are helping them get the recognition they seem to so badly want by naming all of them one by one.”

Red Pepper is reportedly owned by Salim Saleh. According to Wikipedia, he is the half-brother of the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni.

Formerly known as Caleb Akandwanaho, Saleh has faced allegations of corruption and the plundering of resources in the Congo. A former Uganda army chief, he is now Minister of State for Microfinance in the Ugandan government.

Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century.

Red Pepper Page 1

Page 2