Ugandan Tabloid Publishes Names of 'Gay Recruiters'

Ugandan Tabloid Publishes Names of 'Gay Recruiters'

Ugandan Tabloid Publishes Names of 'Gay Recruiters'

Uganda - Red Pepper is a daily tabloid newspaper in Uganda which began publication June 19, 2001. Deliberately mirroring the style of tabloids in other countries, the paper is known for its mix of sensationalism, scandal, and frequent nudity. In August 2006, Red Pepper published the first names and occupations of prominent Ugandan men whom it asserted were homosexual. The following month, it published a similar list of 13 women whom it claimed were lesbians. In an interview published in May 2009, the news editor of Red Pepper, Ben Byarabaha, vowed that the tabloid would continue its campaign against alleged homosexuals by publishing their names, photographs and addresses.

According to The New Civil Rights Movement, the front page of Sunday's edition of Red Pepper declared: "Top Uganda Gay Recruiters Busted". Red Pepper asserts as fact the myth of the "recruitment" of straight minors by gay people, and lists people it claims are perpetrators in Uganda.

Homosexual acts are  illegal in Uganda. The Ugandan Parliament is due to vote on a bill that would increase the penalties for homosexual acts, potentially enforcing the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality".

The criminalisation of gay sex and public attitudes towards homosexuality make the publication of a person's name in Red Pepper's list, whether they are actually gay or not, extremely dangerous.

Betty Tibikawa is one of several Ugandan asylum seekers to have fled to the UK after being outed by Red Pepper. The tabloid published her name in a list of lesbians and she was attacked by three men, who branded her thighs with hot irons.

It is unclear how many names were published in last weekend's edition.

According to a tweet by LGBT activist Frank Mugisha, photographs were published in the Sunday paper alongside the names. He said he was concerned about the "harassment they will face".

Anti-gay preacher Martin Ssempa, a supporter of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, replied to Mr Mugisha's tweet saying: "haven't seen it".

In December last year, the tabloid published a graphic cover photograph of football coach Chris Mubiru having sex with what was claimed to be another footballer, creating a storm in the Ugandan media.

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