A Ugandan newspaper on Monday published the names and photos of 14 men it identified as gay in a country where homosexuality can lead to lengthy jail terms and has even prompted calls for the death sentence.
The lead article in the Rolling Stone newspaper, which has no relation to the US magazine, entitled “Men of Shame Part II,” pictured 14 men identified as the “generals” of the gay movement in Uganda.
“They published their pictures on a gay networking website, so that was enough evidence for us,” editor Giles Muhame said, adding that the paper did not try to contact the men before publishing their pictures.
Homosexuality in Uganda is punishable by life imprisonment in some instances, and a lawmaker in 2009 introduced a Bill calling for some homosexual acts to be punished with death.
The Bill, criticised by local and international observers, has not yet been formally debated in Parliament.
The men were identified by name and home town, as supplied to the site, Muhame said.
A previous issue of the tabloid pictured 15 men it alleged were gay. The publication has also quoted an unnamed religious leader calling for gays to be hanged, but Monday’s issue did not advocate violence.
Muhame explained his paper’s motivation for focusing on homosexuality in Monday’s editor’s note.
“A cross-section of heartless homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles,” he wrote.
He explained to Agence France-Presse that while he had no evidence to suggest the 14 identified men were involved with youths, he believed exposing them had “news value”.
‘I really suffered’
Stosh Mugisha, who lives openly as a lesbian, had her picture published in the previous issue of Rolling Stone.
“I really suffered. I was forced to move away from my home,” she said Monday.
Frank Mugisha, who heads a local gay rights group Sexual Minorities in Uganda (Smug), said the paper’s tactics caused wider suffering.
“Harassment definitely increased and it doesn’t stop with people who are actually pictured,” said Mugisha. “Any time you put this issue in the public anyone who is even suspected of being gay can be attacked.”
Mugisha is scheduled to appear before a high court later on Monday to seek an injunction blocking the paper from further publishing any similar content.
The Rolling Stone was last month told not to publish any more issues until it received a licence from the Uganda Media Council.
Muhame said on Monday the paper has not yet received its licence but had decided to publish regardless.
“We met all [the council’s] requirements,” Muhame told AFP. “After that, we don’t care what they have to say.” — AFP