/ 2 November 2010

Ugandan court bans photos, names of gays

Uganda’s High Court has ordered a controversial newspaper to stop publishing the names and photographs of people it says are gay, ruling that the publication is violating their right to privacy.

A gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda sought the injunction after the paper on Monday published its second straight edition with names and photos. The first edition, published in early October, sparked attacks against at least four gay Ugandans, Sexual Minorities Uganda said.

Justice Vincent Kibuuka Musoke ordered Rolling Stone on Monday to stop publishing the names and photos of Ugandans they deemed gay, at least until November 23, when Musoke said a final ruling would be made. Musoke said he ordered the injunction because publishing names and photos “is an infringement of the right to privacy of those whose photos appear in it”.

Julian Onziema, the programme coordinator for Sexual Minorities Uganda, said the group was happy with the court’s injunction but that other publications were beginning to print the same kinds of stories.

“We filed a suit against the paper for abuse of our fundamental human rights of privacy, association and security,” Onziema said.

“However my happiness might be short-lived because there are other tabloids in Uganda which are taking over from where Rolling Stone exploded. They are making people hate us,” he said.

Rolling Stone‘s managing editor, Giles Muhame, said that publishing photos of gay Ugandans can help police find them. Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and anyone in a homosexual relationship may face up to 14 years in prison.

Gay people in Uganda say they have faced a year of attacks and harassment since a lawmaker introduced a Bill in October 2009 that would impose the death penalty for some sexual activities between members of the same sex, and life in prison for others. The Bill has not come up for a vote.

The legislation was drawn up following a visit by leaders of US conservative Christian ministries that promote therapy that they say allows gay people to become heterosexual.

The Bill became political poison after international condemnation and many Christian leaders have denounced it. — Sapa-AP