Ugandan paper says it will keep outing gays
A Ugandan newspaper that “outs” people it says are gay and has called for them to be hanged said on Tuesday it would use a two-week window before a court verdict on its activities to continue with its campaign.
Three gay activists — two women and one man — who were featured in the publication secured an interim injunction on November 1 stopping the newspaper from publishing such photos on privacy grounds.
The paper, “Rolling Stone”, has published some images under the headline “Hang them”.
A High Court judge last week heard from lawyers representing both sides before adjourning the case ahead of a verdict on December 13. A row has now broken out about whether the injunction stands until the judge makes his ruling.
“The interim order was first passed on November 1st and extended until November 26th while we prepared our case,” Giles Muhame, the 22-year-old editor of the newspaper, told Reuters.
“The judge then said on the 26th that he would pass his final verdict on December 13th, which means it expired.”
But Frank Mugisha, director of gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda, said his group believed the interim order stood until the day of the ruling.
The newspaper has caused international uproar and the ensuing media attention has prompted some Ugandans to dub Kampala “world homophobia capital”.
Rolling Stone has so far published 29 photographs with names and, in some cases, addresses and says it intends to work through a list of 100 people.
Several people featured in the newspaper say they have been attacked since its publication and activists say many more have gone into hiding.
Homosexuality is deeply unpopular in many African nations, where some see it as a Western import. It is illegal in 37 countries on the continent and activists say few Africans are openly gay, fearing imprisonment, violence and loss of jobs.
Kenya’s Prime Minister Raila Odinga last weekend ordered the arrest of homosexuals, calling their behaviour unlawful and unnecessary since there were more women than men in the country, Ugandan media reported.
Muhame said he would now try to feature as many people as possible whom his newspaper considers gay in two issues before the verdict is passed.
“I hope basic justice will be done,” he told Reuters. “Some people are even calling for public hanging and some others even want to see homosexuals buried alive.”
A bill was tabled in Uganda’s parliament last year proposing the death penalty for gays and was called “odious” by U.S. President Barack Obama. It is not expected to become law.