After a Ugandan tabloid newspaper for the second time published the names and photos of 14 men it identified as gay men in a country where homosexuality can lead to persecution and lengthy jail terms and has even prompted calls for the death sentence, a gay rights group countered by today obtaining an injunction from Uganda's High Court blocking any further publication of similar material. In a previous edition, the tabloid pictured 15 men it alleged were gay. Then, the publication also quoted an unnamed religious leader calling for gays to be hanged, but the most recent issue did not advocate violence.
The lead article in the Rolling Stone newspaper (no relation to the US magazine by the same name) entitled "Men of Shame Part II", pictured 14 men identified as "generals" of the gay movement in Uganda. Says editor Giles Muhame "They published their pictures on a gay networking website, so that was enough evidence for us," adding that the paper did not contact the men before publishing their pictures.
In the paper's Editorial, editor Muhame explained his paper's motivation for focussing on homosexuality..
"A cross-section of heartless homosexuals is seriously recruiting and brainwashing unsuspecting kids into gay circles.."
When queried by AFP Muhame admitted that he had no evidence that the 14 identified men were involved with youths, but he believed exposing them had "news value".
The gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) secured a court injunction restraining The Rolling Stone newspaper from publishing any similar material. Justice Vincent Musoke-Kibuuka of the Kampala High Court upon an application by SMUG granted an "interim Order restraining Rolling Stone (or any affiliated publication) from any further publication of the identity of any person perceived by them to be gay, lesbian or homosexual."
Justice Musoke-Kibuuka referred to the editorial material as "an infringement or invasion of the right to privacy" of the individuals identified. A further hearing is scheduled for 23 November.
The paper did not secure the services of a legal representative and there was no lawyer present in court on their behalf. Agence France Presse confirms that when they notified Muhame of the court's ruling he was defiant, saying..
"We will publish more pictures but in a diplomatic way, so that we can dodge the law. We might not name them as homos, but the public will know what they are."
By the way, Rolling Stone is not a licensed newspaper and had been instructed since last month to desist from publishing until it receives its licence from the Uganda Media Council. Muhame confirmed that the paper had not yet received its licence but decided to publish regardless.
Commenting on his blog in a piquant post about the exposing of gays by the Rolling Stone newspaper, fellow blogger AfroGay pointed out that in Uganda exposing gay people in tabloid newspapers is not new. However, this has never succeeded in bringing about the desired mass uprising of the people against those identified. If anything, what has occurred is that the plight of the gay and lesbian people of Uganda and of much of sub-Saharan Africa continues to be highlighted in the consciousness of the world, adding momentum to the drive for change.
To my surprise Giles Muhame himself responded by leaving a comment on AfroGay's blog post. But from his comment it becomes apparent that despite the jeopardy that their contemptible publications bring upon innocent gay people, despite their high sounding moralistic claims, including this CNN interview in which Muhame insists that reports that gay people have been attacked after being exposed in his newspaper are "all lies", the likes of Muhame and his newspaper as well as others like it, are motivated solely by money.