List of ‘top 200’ gays published in Uganda

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 February, 2014, 9:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 February, 2014, 11:05am

A Ugandan newspaper published a list yesterday of what it called the country's "200 top" homosexuals, outing some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay one day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday's signing of the bill by President Yoweri Museveni marked "a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights".

He warned that Washington could cut aid to the government of the East African nation.

"Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values," Kerry said.

Video: A Ugandan newspaper has listed 200 people it accuses of being gay

The Red Pepper tabloid published the names - and some pictures - in a front-page story under the headline: "EXPOSED!"

The list included prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Pepe Julian Onziema, who has repeatedly warned that Uganda's new anti-gay law could spark violence against homosexuals.

There was a popular Ugandan hip-hop star as well as a Catholic priest. Few Ugandans identify themselves as gay, and the tabloid's publication of alleged homosexuals recalled a similar list published in 2011 by a now-defunct tabloid that called for the execution of gays.

A Ugandan judge later condemned the outing of homosexuals in a country where gays face discrimination, saying it amounted to an invasion of privacy.

A prominent Ugandan gay activist was killed after that list came out, and activists said at the time that they believed David Kato was targeted because of his work promoting gay rights in Uganda. The new law punishes gay sex with up to life in jail.

The bill originally proposed the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV. The law also calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail.

In signing the bill, Museveni said the measure was needed because the West was promoting homosexuality in Africa, rejecting international criticism of the law as interference in Uganda's internal affairs.

Ugandan police spokesman Patrick Onyango said yesterday that no homosexuals had been arrested since Museveni signed the bill, but that at least two had been taken into custody since lawmakers passed the bill last December.

Onziema, the gay activist, said he knew of six arrests and that more than a dozen Ugandan homosexuals had fled the country since December.

Where homosexuality may mean death:

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Here are the 10 countries where homosexuality may be punishable by death:

YEMEN: Married men can be sentenced to death by stoning for homosexual intercourse. Unmarried men face whipping or one year in prison. Women face up to seven years in prison.

IRAN: Under sharia law, homosexual intercourse can be punished by death, and men can be flogged for acts such as kissing. Women may be flogged.

IRAQ: Homosexual acts are not expressly prohibited, but people have been killed by militias and sentenced to death by judges citing sharia law.

MAURITANIA: Muslim men engaging in homosexual sex can be stoned to death. Women face prison.

NIGERIA: Federally, homosexual behaviour is classified as a felony punishable by jail, but several states adopt sharia law and impose a death penalty.

QATAR: Sharia law applies only to Muslims, who can be put to death for extramarital sex, regardless of sexual orientation.

SAUDI ARABIA: Under sharia law, a married man engaging in sodomy or any non-Muslim who commits sodomy with a Muslim can be stoned to death.

SOMALIA: The penal code stipulates prison, but in some southern regions, Islamic courts have imposed sharia law and the death penalty.

SUDAN: Three-time offenders under the sodomy law can be put to death; first and second convictions result in flogging and imprisonment. Southern parts of the country have adopted more lenient laws.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Lawyers disagree on whether death is proscribed for consensual homosexual sex or only for rape. Amnesty International was not aware of any death sentences.

The Washington Post