Ugandan outing of homosexuals ‘chilling’: activists (CBS, September 8, 2006)

February 27, 2015

Filed under: Writings

The decision by a Ugandan newspaper to publish the names and locations of alleged homosexuals could lead to a government crackdown against them, a human rights group warns.
Human Rights Watch issued a release Friday, calling that development “chilling” and urging strong action in a country which the group charges has long been a place where lesbians and gays have been stigmatized and harassed by officials. “For years, President Yoweri Museveni’s government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual-rights activists to harassment,” said Jessica Stern, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program of Human Rights Watch.

“At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute.”

The organization is calling on the Ugandan government to put an end to homophobic statements by officials, repeal the country’s sodomy laws, and offer protections from harassment both for gays and lesbians and those who work in organizations that serve their community.

On Aug. 8, the tabloid paper Red Pepper published a list of first names, workplaces and other identifying information of 45 alleged homosexuals, all men.

The paper said it wanted to “demonstrate how rapidly this terrible vice known as sodomy is eating away at our society.”

Homosexuality ‘seen as strange’ in Africa

Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Uganda under a sodomy law inherited from British colonial rule.

A Red Pepper editor, who asked not to be named, defended the publication to BBC News on Friday.

“It’s one of the interesting things for people to read in a tabloid because in African societies homosexuality is still seen as strange,” the editor said.

The editor added that the paper has previously listed the names of cheating spouses and that to their knowledge, the police or government officials haven’t acted on any lists.

That claim is contradicted by Human Rights Watch, which said that in 2002, a similar outing of two lesbians led to arrests, and a pastor who had counselled them was forced to leave the country.

The group also lists previous statements from government officials and state-run media urging a crackdown on homosexuality.

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