Witch-hunt fears after Ugandan paper prints 'list of homosexuals'
Published 26/02/2014 | 02:30
A national newspaper in Uganda published a list yesterday of more than 60 people it said were homosexuals, raising fears of a witch-hunt the day after the country's president signed into law an anti-gay bill.
Under the headline "Exposed!", the 'Red Pepper' front-page story promised to name "Uganda's 200 top homos" in a move likely to inflame an already tense situation for homosexuals in the country.
In fact, 61 were listed on inside pages. They included a handful of openly gay Ugandans, including Pepe Julian Onziema, an activist. Also listed were a popular Ugandan hip-hop star and a Catholic priest.
David Kato, a gay activist, was murdered by a man with a hammer weeks after his name appeared in a similar story in a now defunct Ugandan newspaper that listed 100 men it claimed were gay. Mr Kato's death in January 2011 was widely believed to have been provoked by that story, and there are fears of a similar backlash following the 'Red Pepper' article. The newspaper, while little respected, is widely read.
"Everyone's frightened, everyone's staying away from the usual haunts, we're barely even on to each other on the phone or social media," said a member of one LGBT organisation in the capital, Kampala, who refused to be named for safety reasons.
"We expected something like this. It'll probably blow over pretty quickly, I get the sense most Ugandans feel there are bigger battles that our government should be fighting, like the fact no one has enough food or kids don't go to school."
William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, has said that he was "deeply saddened and disappointed" that Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's president of 28 years, assented to the new anti-homosexuality bill.
The British government, however, has failed to respond to calls to review Britain's £107m-a-year (€129m) aid donation to Uganda, despite David Cameron's warnings last year that support may be linked to a country's record on human rights.
John Kerry, the US secretary of state, said that American aid to Uganda was under review and demanded that the new legislation be scrapped.
"This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law," Mr Kerry said.
"This legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship. Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the government of Uganda." (© Daily Telegraph, London)