Rolling Stone, a Ugandan Tabloid which recently published images and personal details of alleged top 100 homosexuals in Uganda, has been ordered stop publishing by the Ugandan Media Council which said that it has contravened section 5 of the Press and Journalist Act, prohibiting any publication which improperly infringes on the privacy of an individual or which contains false information.
This, after the newspaper, in its 02 October article “Hang them, they are after our kids” named and shamed alleged homosexuals in the country, following on the footsteps of The Red Pepper, another Ugandan tabloid infamous for previously running the same campaign against Ugandan homosexuals.
In a letter signed by Secretary Paul Mukasa and addressed to The Rolling Stone’s Managing Editor Giles Muhame, the Ugandan Media Council said “The requirements of the law must be adhered to, before you [The editor] can publish a newspaper and orders you to stop publishing The Rolling Stone until all requirements of the law are met.
Meanwhile gay rights activists have strongly condemned the tabloids’ alleged apparent homophobic stance of naming and shaming Ugandan homosexuals saying, “It is disturbing that in Uganda homosexuals continue to be subjected to such degrading and inhumane treatment.”
In a statement endorsed by delegates from all over the world who were attending the 4th Gender and Media Summit in Boksburg, South Africa recently, The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said “The actions of the Rolling Stone tabloid have grossly violated the privacy and dignity of the individuals concerned and therefore violate the constitution of Uganda and various International Human Rights Instruments to which the state of Uganda is subscribed including Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) of 1981 and Article 1(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.”
Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) of 1981 states that “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”
CAL further argued that this “outing of homosexuls” is happening in the context of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, tabled on 14, October 2009 in the Ugandan parliament which makes provisions for life imprisonment of homosexual crimes, a death sentence for repeated crimes of homosexuality and about 5 to 7 years in prison for failing to report such crimes to the authorities.
“This Bill is an expression of prejudice, intolerance, discrimination and violence. It has promoted hate speech in churches, schools and the media. It has led to defamation, blackmail, evictions, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and unlawful detention, physical assault, emotional and mental assault of LGBT activists, our families and allies”, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) said.
A Ugandan source who is also Programmes Coordinator for Kuchus [Homosexuals] Living with HIV/Aids (Kulhas), whose picture was also featured in newspapers said, “When my neighbours saw my picture in the paper, they were furious. They threw stones at me while I was in my house. I was so terrified but somehow I managed to flee my home to safety.”
CAL has called on media regulators to counter the “impunity and detest” in which minority groups are portrayed in media in that continent, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.
According to media reports the Ugandan tabloid may have obtained some of the photos from Facebook profiles of ordinary LGBT people in Uganda and abroad.
“The sad truth is that most evil in Uganda is done by people who end up never being held accountable for their deeds. The Rolling Stone publication has incited violence against a group of minorities making them seem like less of human beings”, Gerald Sentongo of SMUG.
CAL has welcomed the decision of the Uganda Media Council to stop the operations of the Rolling Stone tabloid in terms of section 5 of the Press and Journalist Act of Uganda.
SMUG has also acknowledged the support from Human Rights Institutions, activists and civil society all over the world for the “enormous” support to the Ugandan LGBTI community and requested for continued support calling for African governments to repeal the ‘sodomy laws.”
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