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Lesbian witch hunt in Uganda – names printed in publication

Uganda belongs to an unfortunate club of African nations that have declared homosexuality a criminal offense and openly demonizes gays. A newspaper, Red Pepper, published a list of names of 13 women it says are lesbians, making a direct call to chase down and punish the women. (UKGayNews):

The women include two boutique owners, a basketball player and the daughters of a former MP and a prominent Sheikh.

Under the headline, “Kampala’s Notorious Lesbians Unearthed”, the sleazy tabloid published a photo of two very beautiful unnamed women embracing at a party.

The article urged readers to phone the newspaper with details of any lesbians they know:

To rid our motherland of the deadly vice (lesbianism), we are committed to exposing all the lesbos in the city. Send more names us (sic) the name and occupation of the lesbin (sic) in your neighbourhood and we shall shame her,” Red Pepper urged.

“I know that some women are definitely going to lose what they have; jobs, homes, families, and friends,” commented a Ugandan lesbian activist.

Conviction for the crime of homosexuality is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, This is actually the third time that Red Pepper has gone on a gay witch hunt, according to Amnesty International and OUTFront; in August the publication printed the names of men it believed to be gay.

On September 7, Red Pepper ran an article naming and picturing another man, supposedly wanted by police for engaging in ”homosexuality activities [sic]”. Following the publication of the list of men on August 8, Amnesty International received several reports of harassment of LGBT people who had been named. Some reported being harassed by colleagues, while others were ostracized by relatives.

Amnesty International strongly condemned the publication of the article through a public statement issued on August 29 and remains concerned that the continued targeting of LGBT people by the Red Pepper newspaper puts those named at high risk of discrimination and violence by individuals or by the authorities.

Red Pepper, according to UK Gay News, is owned by Salim Saleh, who is the half-brother of anti-gay Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda.

You can take action on this in just a couple of clicks by sending an email through Amnesty International’s web form that will reach Yoweri Museveni – President, Makubuya Kiddu – Minister of Justice, Edith Grace Ssempala – Ambassador, and Ruhakana Rugunda – Minister of Internal Affairs.

Also fax your letter to:
Ambassador Edith Grace Ssempala
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda
5911 -16th St. NW
Washington DC 20011
Fax: 1 (202) 726-1727

Hat tip to Blender Nancy, who said about Uganda, “I’d have thought that they had bigger problems that whether or not two girls are together, but I guess demonizing the gays is always in style regardless of what country you’re in.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding