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The Fall Out: Gay Ugandans Outed in the Tabloids and Committing Suicide

The Fall Out: Gay Ugandans Outed in the Tabloids and Committing Suicide

In the wake of Uganda making law its “Jail the Gays” legislation, it’d be easy to be alarmist about the situation. That said, there really is reason to believe that Uganda’s attack on the LGBT rights is turning deadly.

Just hours after President Yoweri Museveni signed Uganda’s Jail the Gays bill into law, Ugandan tabloid the Red Pepper published a front page completed by the headline:

EXPOSED!

Uganda’s 200 Top Homos Named

This headline appeared alongside headshots of some of the “homos” the paper aimed to out, including two well known LGBT rights activists. Box Turtle Bulletin has images of the three-page spread in which not just well known people are named, but also members of the public whom the paper appears to have no qualms about putting in danger.

It should be noted that this kind of sensationalism of public outing has happened before, and the consequences then were far reaching. The Ugandan Rolling Stone–no affiliation to the American publication–published a list of “Top 100 Homos” in 2010, in which the paper targeted a number of people who were involved with human rights work in the country, but also people who weren’t even gay. They became targets for discrimination and, in some cases, even violence.

The story didn’t end there, either. Victims of the tabloid spread took the paper to court and eventually won, obtaining a court injunction that prevented the paper from ever outing anyone else. That wasn’t much of a victory though, as it is widely believed that human rights campaigner David Kato’s involvement in that case contributed to the anti-gay hate that three weeks later saw him violently murdered.

At any rate, for the tabloids there’s now a key enabling factor they can hide behind, and that can be found in the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The legislation contains a clause that makes it an offense not to inform the police about someone you believe to be gay. With this as cover, the Red Pepper seems to feel emboldened enough to publish this kind of extraordinarily dangerous front page. Whether victims can now bring a case to the courts remains unclear.

Needless to say, this kind of act only feeds in to an air of fear and even violence. Attacks against Uganda’s LGBT population have increased in recent years ever since the infamous 2009 conference attended by American evangelicals, from which the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill first rose. That the violence could now escalate barely needs to be said. Add to this the fact that victims have little legal recourse because by the very act of going to the police about anti-gay violence they would be revealing themselves as criminals, and we begin to see how ripe for genocidal hate Uganda is shaping up to be.

Reports say that since Museveni signed the bill into law, there have been at least two confirmed arrests, with several more remaining unconfirmed but highly likely. In tragic addition to that, there are stories that people have in fact taken their own lives rather than risk being mercilessly oppressed under Uganda’s new anti-gay law.

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour spoke with one Ugandan activist who tells what life is like now that the Anti-Homosexuality law is in place:

So dire is the situation that UK MPs are being called on to offer asylum to those 200 people named by the Red Pepper. Various countries around the world, while cutting or dramatically scaling back aid to Uganda, are also trying to figure out whether gay Ugandans should be classed as in need of immediate asylum given how dire their situation could be should the country return them to Uganda.

Certainly, according to most international standards, Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Law now poses a serious threat to liberty and even life, thus triggering asylum relief. How countries deal with that however will be the test. Given how poorly LGBT asylum cases are handled by some nations, including the UK, there is no guarantee Ugandans will receive the safe haven they desperately need.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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66 comments

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5:57AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Where will this madness end?

11:15AM PDT on Mar 9, 2014

Homophobia is atrocious.

3:20PM PST on Mar 7, 2014

Here's an idea... let's trade one GLBT foreigner for one religious bigot in the US. Problem solved. These sick twisted bigots can't get away with their hate and violence here (most of the time) so they take it out in areas like Uganda. Let the haters all go to one country and we'll take all of the lovers!

11:06AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Tim: Lively and The Family are serving in an identical role all over the world as ALEC serves here with Stand Your Ground laws and other noxious, pro business legislation that we see popping up in state houses all over the country. We are seeing 'model legislation' regarding illegals, abortion clinics and birth control that are nearly identical showing up all over the map because there are groups dedicated to writing these laws and getting Republicans to try to implement them.

Yes, the Russian Orthodox Church is anti gay, and Putin, terrified of demographic trends in Russia that will make it disappear if not reversed (birth rates well below replacement levels, shortening life spans - Russian men don't make it to 60, rampant drug addiction and alcoholism, the rapid spread of HIV and antibiotic resistant TB) has encouraged them to foment hatred of gays while encouraging Russian nationalism, but the legislation comes from The Family. Julia gets it right when she says they're giving up on the US, where the battle is lost, and going for more fertile ground. The Pope is going to do an end run around them in much of Africa, though!

6:48PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

while I was writing, I also had searches going and have to admit I don't know how I missed it before. Although I still have my doubts on his true influence in Russia. He claims credit, but I still believe it has more to do with the Russian Orthodox Church who's power re-grew rapidly in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union if I understand correctly. The Orthodox Church has been quite vicious toward the gay community in Russia even before Lively's appearance. I think in this case Lively is more just look for street cred' so to speak,

6:33PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Julia W.
I of course know of these horrible things happening around the world. Scott Lively is one of the most despicable people I know of. I have not seen any mention of Scott Lively or his gang of thugs being involved in the Russian fiasco, but will look into it now. Up to this point to the best of my knowledge, most of the push in Russia has been the Russian Orthodox Church. I would just like to see more than one report showing Lively's involvement in the Russian Laws. Don't get me wrong. I will never be a defender of Lively. He is a despicable less than human - Homo sapiens. But if I accuse him in writing or conversation, I want to know he is guilty of the wrongs I accuse him of. Like I said I before, I have seen many stories and even admit ions from him, linking him to the mess in Uganda, Nigeria, and other vulnerable nations. This is the first time I have seen or heard mention of he or his groups being involved in the Russian Laws. The Russian Orthodox Church has been heavily involved in anti gay movements for some years now. Even staging violent attacks against gay marches demonstrations and Pride parades. Very un-Christian looking video coming from that story. Orthodox Priests wearing their priestly attire attacking unarmed peaceful people in the streets while the police and government officials watch.

3:49PM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Tim, I too have read what Cathleen is reporting that Scott Lively and other Christians from the U.S., who are known as the Family, are importing hate to Uganda, Nigeria and Russia.

They've given up on America: seventeen states and the District of Columbia have gay and lesbian marriage. Even the NFL pressured Arizona Governor Jan Brewer over the hateful law that passed through that state's congress. If she hadn't vetoed it, it looked like the NFL might take away the Super Bowl next year in Arizona.

So, because things are better for gays and lesbians here in the US, this awful group has ginned up the hate that was already there in Uganda, Nigeria and Russia.

If you have not seen Jason Jones on The Daily Show reporting on the dismal outlook for gay people in Russia during the Sochi Olympics, please watch it. The Russians didn't have to be pushed hard by the Family.

8:05AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

What the hell is wrong with you Uganda??!! This is absolutely insane!

4:58AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Cathleen K.
I am aware of USA Evangelical involvement in the Uganda mess, specifically people such a Scott Lively. What I was wondering is where you got your info on the USA involvement in the Russian mess. Don't get me wrong, I am not arguing or claiming you to be incorrect, I am just confused. I know that the Russian Orthodox Church is behind much of it and was curious where the USA Evangelicals come into the picture.

2:01AM PST on Mar 5, 2014

Throughout history minority groups have always been extremely badly treated and at risk. Sadly with the way humanity is, I cant see that stopping any time soon (all the more dangerous nowdays due to it being the age of the internet and spying, where everything is nearly known about everyone).

I hope countries around the world offer asylum to these ones or otherwise they will be just as responsible for tragicity.

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