Lesbians targeted by Ugandan tabloid, Kenyan school

Hello tabloid raises the likelihood of violence and harassment of LGBT Ugandans by publishing a list of local lesbians, alleged lesbians and LGBT allies. (Photo courtesy of Kasha Jacqueline via Facebook)
Hello tabloid raises the likelihood of violence and harassment of LGBT Ugandans by publishing a list of local lesbians, alleged lesbians and LGBT allies. (Photo montage courtesy of Kasha Jacqueline via Facebook)

East African tabloid newspapers returned last week to their hateful tradition of outing alleged and actual LGBT citizens, this time with a front-page article that listed alleged lesbians in Uganda.

The article in the Hello tabloid of May 29 came less than two weeks after a Kenyan tabloid listed that country’s “top” 14 gays and lesbians, and 15 months after a Ugandan tabloid published a similar list of what it called “Uganda’s 200 Top Homos.”

Such articles stir up anti-LGBT feelings and often lead to harassment and violence against alleged LGBT people.  Homophobic landlords have evicted tenants whose names they see in such lists, homophobic parents have disowned children whose names they find listed, and homophobic bosses have fired employees whom the tabloids target.

Front page of Rolling Stone in October 2010.
Front page of Rolling Stone in October 2010.

Ugandan LGBT rights activist David Kato was murdered in January 2011, a few months after the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone published his name and photo, among those of many other alleged lesbians and homosexuals, under the heading “Hang Them.”

After the LGBT rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda sued the newspaper, the Ugandan High Court ordered it to stop publishing names of alleged LGBT people and to pay each of three individual plaintiffs (Kato, Kasha Jacqueline, and Pepe Onziema) a fine of 1.5 million Ugandan shillings (about $450.)   Kato was murdered shortly after that verdict was announced.

That verdict did not stop other tabloids from publishing similar lists. It’s a continuing “media witch hunt,” commented Ugandan LGBTI rights activist Kasha, the publisher of Kuchu Times.

Cover of Hello tabloid on May 29, 2015.
Cover of Hello tabloid of Uganda on May 29, 2015.

“This is the very reason why Kuchu Times exists — to counter such hateful media,” she stated.

The latest Hello list included some well-known LGBTI rights activists — Kasha, LGBTI security advocate Sandra Ntebi, and researcher/straight ally Stella Nyanzi — but also many alleged lesbians whose have kept their sexual orientation private and whose safety is jeopardized by this article.

The Hello list came just one day after the tabloid published a sensationalized account of Ugandans’ participation in the Pride festival in Birmingham, England, under the headline “Ugandan Gays Hold Sex Fest in UK.”

Alleged lesbians have been under attack both in Uganda and in Kenya, where  five students were targeted by anti-lesbian school officials. The following account is a summary of a Kuchu Times article:

Kenyan students sue school that expelled them for alleged lesbianism

Five female students were expelled May 18 from their school in Nairobi after they were found asleep in one girl’s dormitory room after a night of partying and book discussions.

The students were suspended on charges of lesbianism on April 8, then expelled on May 18. They have sued the school in the High Court, accusing it of acting without valid reason and seeking readmission on the grounds that their expulsion violated their rights under the Kenyan Basic Education Act and Children Act.

For more information, see articles in Kuchu Times and the Daily Nation.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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