Several days ago an unregistered, English-language tabloid in Uganda published a front-page headline announcing “100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS LEAK,” and stamped the cover with a yellow label declaring, “Hang Them.” Inside the paper, alongside the men’s photos were printed their names and addresses. Since the paper hit stands, at least four of the men on the list have been attacked. (Still more are in hiding.) This comes a year after a legislator introduced a bill that would have set the death penalty for homosexual acts, a bill that was set aside after international uproar. “Before the introduction of the bill in parliament most people did not mind about our activities. But since then, we are harassed by many people who hate homosexuality,” Patrick Ndede, 27, told the Washington Post. “The publicity the bill got made many people come to know about us and they started mistreating us.”
The article — in a publication called Rolling Stone, which is not related to the U.S. magazine of the same name — also claimed that a deadly new disease was spreading among homosexuals in Uganda, and that homosexuals were raiding schools to recruit “one million children.”
This is not the first time that a paper in Uganda has named “top homos.” Red Pepper, another tabloid, produced a similar self-titled “killer dossier” around this same time last year.
In 2009, the United States donated an estimated $285 million to the Ugandan government through PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief started by George Bush in 2003. Since its inception, Uganda has received over $1.2 billion in aid from the U.S. to combat HIV/AIDS, an epidemic that is flourishing there among the community of men who have sex with men. Rather than distribute condoms or educate gay men to help stop the spread of the disease, the Ugandan official response is to exclude them from services and wage a cultural and legal war against them. When this latest article came out, the government only offered to suspend the tabloid’s circulation because it had not yet officially registered. Once it files the proper paperwork, it may resume publication without facing punishment.
This essay by Jamie Kirchick from the Los Angeles Times last year does a good job of explaining the conflict between the United States’ AIDS funding to Uganda and that country’s policy toward some of its most at-risk citizens. Newsweek has also taken a good look at this issue. Far from improving as a result of the help of the United States, the situation for gays in Uganda seems to only be getting worse.