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article imageCourt shuts down Uganda newspaper that published 'gay lists'

By Stephanie Dearing     Nov 2, 2010 in Lifestyle
A Uganda-based newspaper called the Rolling Stone has published two "gay lists" naming people suspected of being gay in the country, where homosexuality is largely illegal. But a court has ordered the paper to cease publication.
The Uganda Rolling Stone created controversy in Uganda and around the world for advocating the people it had identified as gay should be killed, reported Afriquejet, suggesting suspected homosexuals could be hanged.
Pepe Julian Onziema, an openly gay Ugandan who has agitated for gay rights, posted a tweet in mid-October, after the first gay list was published, to say "worried about my safety. i guess all will be well. "
Onziema belongs to Sexual Minorities Uganda, as does fellow Ugandan, Frank Mugisha. Reuters Africa spoke to Mugisha Monday following the ruling made by the Uganda high court to suspend the publishing activities of Rolling Stone. Mugisha said Sexual Minorities Uganda "petitioned the high court to order Rolling Stone to stop work because it was exposing innocent people to discrimination, ridicule, intimidation and possible violence." Mugisha said the ruling was welcome. "I feel enormous relief and happiness because we have received justice at long last. Rolling Stone won't be on the streets anymore."
Afriquejet spoke with Onziema, who said the gay community could not rest with the ruling, saying other tabloids must be stopped from doing similar things. Onziema said 'We feel justice has been done. But stopping the paper from any further hate publication on the gay community is a score and reduces the risks they are exposed to.
We tried talking to Rolling Stone editors but they instead abused us and vowed to do more harm on us in their paper. We therefore had no option but to seek redress from court and today we have won."
After the Rolling Stone published the first list, naming 100 men with photographs and addresses, The Advocate reported four men were attacked and injured. At the time, the managing editor of the Rolling Stone, Giles Muhame said "We felt there was need for society to know that such characters exist amongst them. Some of them recruit young children into homosexuality, which is bad and need to be exposed. They take advantage of poverty to recruit Ugandans. In brief we did so because homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable, and insults our traditional lifestyle."
Monday, the Rolling Stone published a second list of people alleged to be gay. According to the AFP, the second list named 14 men which the Rolling Stone described as "generals of the gay movement."
Muhane told the AFP his publication had proceeded with publishing the photographs on the list without permission from the people exposed because "They published their pictures on a gay networking website, so that was enough evidence for us." After the ruling was issued Monday, Muhane told the media he would continue to identify people thought to be gay.
The American Rolling Stone hastened to put at least an arm's length between itself and the Uganda publication, stating on October 21st "... Not only are we not affiliated in any way with the Ugandan paper, we have demanded they cease using our name as a title." The original Rolling Stone expressed its horror over the actions of the Uganda paper, saying the "... Rolling Stone has published one of the most vile and hateful anti-gay screeds we have ever read. The article printed the addresses and photos of 100 homosexuals in the country, calling for them to be hanged... there is a larger issue at stake: Homosexuality is still a crime in much of Africa, often punishable by life in prison. “Half the world’s countries that criminalize homosexual conduct do so because they cling to Victorian morality and colonial laws,” says Scott Long of Human Rights Watch. “Getting rid of these unjust remnants of the British empire is long overdue.”"
The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (SDGLN) reported the Rolling Stone had not been licenced to publish in Uganda, and had proceeded to violate a ruling from the High Court to stop publishing activities until the proper paperwork had been completed.
SDGLN also said a number of Uganda papers had been engaged in similar "outings." American activists are asking the US State Department to give the outed Ugandans visas, allowing them safe passage to the US. France has offered asylum to at least one outed Ugandan, according to Tetu.
Earlier this year, the BBC reported on Uganda's proposed anti-gay legislation, which, if enacted, would see homosexual people killed for some sexual acts. New York Daily News reported on the details of the legislation. While the legislation has not yet been enacted, the government has threatened to do so in the near future, reported Digital Journal.
More about Uganda, Uganda newspaper targets gay, Lesbians, Gay, Homosexual
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