Skip to main content

Ugandan tabloid prints list of 'homosexuals'

By Saad Abedine and Elizabeth Landau, CNN
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Musevini: "They are disgusting. What sort of people are they?"
  • In 2010, another tabloid published similar lists
  • After that, the high court banned all media from publishing such lists

(CNN) -- A day after Uganda passed harsh anti-gay laws, a tabloid newspaper came out with a list of what it called the country's top homosexuals.

The cover of the Red Pepper newspaper read, "EXPOSED! Uganda's 200 Top Homos Named," with several photographs next to the headline.

The story was not available on their online edition.

On Monday, President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that made some homosexual acts punishable by life in prison.

Ugandan president: Gays 'disgusting'
How U.S. evangelicals influenced Uganda

"They're disgusting. What sort of people are they?" he told CNN's Zain Verjee afterward. "I never knew what they were doing. I've been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting. But I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that's how he is born, abnormal. But now the proof is not there."

This isn't the first time that a Ugandan newspaper have identified people it claimed were gay.

In November 2010, Rolling Stone -- a local tabloid which has no relation to the iconic U.S. music magazine -- listed 100 of what it called the country's top gays and lesbians, with photos and addresses alongside a yellow banner reading, "hang them."

The next month, the paper listed 10 more people it claimed were gay. The list included addresses and alleged intimate details about them.

Advocacy groups filed a lawsuit. And the Ugandan high court banned all media outlets in the country from publishing such lists.

Museveni: It's an 'inborn problem'

Museveni had commissioned a group of Ugandan government scientists to study whether homosexuality is "learned," concluding that it is a matter of choice.

"I was regarding it as an inborn problem," he said. "Genetic distortion -- that was my argument. But now our scientists have knocked this one out."

The bill was introduced in 2009 and originally included a death penalty clause for some homosexual acts.

The nation's Parliament passed the bill in December, replacing the death penalty provision with a proposal of life in prison for "aggravated homosexuality." This includes acts in which one person is infected with HIV, "serial offenders" and sex with minors, according to Amnesty International.

Prison terms for gay outreach

The new law also includes punishment -- up to seven years in prison -- for people and institutions who perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, language that was not in the 2009 version.

Lawmakers in the conservative nation said the influence of Western lifestyles risked destroying family units.

The bill also proposed prison terms for anyone who counsels or reaches out to gays and lesbians, a provision that could ensnare rights groups and others providing services to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The White House issued a statement Monday: "Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality."

Prevalent attitudes

Attitudes against homosexuality are prevalent in Uganda. A 2013 report from Pew Research found that 96% of Ugandans believe society should not accept homosexuality.

Thirty-eight African countries have made homosexuality illegal. Most sodomy laws there were introduced during colonialism.

Even before Museveni signed the bill into law, homosexual acts were punishable by 14 years to life in prison.

Ugandan gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that some gay people in Uganda would rather kill themselves than live under the new law.

"Prior to the bill becoming law today, people attempted suicide because they are like, 'I'm not going to live to see this country kill me -- so I would rather take my life.' "

Uganda president: Homosexuals are 'disgusting'

Anti-west and anti-gay: How Yoweri Museveni played to his audience

Uganda's President Museveni signs controversial anti-gay bill into law

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
He should be toddling around a playground. Instead, his tiny hands grip an AK-47.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1031 GMT (1831 HKT)
CNN's Will Ripley travels to North Korea, visiting an international wrestling festival and a slide-filled water park, said to be a pet project of secretive young leader Kim Jong Un.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0920 GMT (1720 HKT)
Our whole solar system appears to be inside a searing gas bubble, scientists say.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1230 GMT (2030 HKT)
In a raid on a luxury apartment complex in France, agents caught up with Ibrahim Boudina, a French-Algerian man they accuse of bringing back Syrian-schooled terror to Europe.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 0002 GMT (0802 HKT)
One journalist murdered, another still being held by ISIS -- a ransom negotiator talks to CNN about the delicate business of trying to get a hostage home alive.
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
The accidental killing of a gun instructor raises an "absurd question," writes Mel Robbins.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT