|Stephane Tchakam, Charge de Communication Pan Africa ILGA|
We have more information on the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication by the same name) which promises to embark on a virulent anti-gay outing campaign. It appears that the tabloid, which published only eleven of its promised “100 pictures of Uganda’s top homos,” may have obtained some of the photos from Facebook profiles of ordinary LGBT people in Uganda and abroad.
Sources in Uganda express concern that they recognize some of the published
photos as having been posted on the popular social networking site. Many
believe that someone posing as a gay man may have “friended” some in the
LGBT community in order to obtain private information and photos, which were
then turned over to Rolling Stone for publication. One name in particular
has surfaced, someone who was involved with last year’s anti-gay outing
campaign. We are unable to confirm those concerns, but given the
circumstances behind this campaign and knowing the involvement of key people
in previous mass outing campaigns, I think those suspicions are not without
Photos published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the Ugandan tabloid
Rolling Stone, along with a description of lymphogranuloma-venereum, "a
disease associated with homosexuals." (Photos obscured by BTB)
The October 2 edition of Rolling Stone only outed a few dozen people so far,
but the tabloid promises that their list will be continued in the next
issue. Of the names mentioned in this edition, some of them make no sense.
One person “outed” by the paper is an American journalist who no longer
lives in Uganda. Another person who was fully named — by first name and last
— had “quit lesbianism.” Rolling Stone added, “She told our investigators ‘I
am a changed girl.’ She is now married with a baby girl.” It’s puzzling
that this woman was identified along with the name of her very small village
in Western Uganda — and deeply troubling.
As we said earlier, the tenor of this outing campaign is even more vicious
than those conducted by the notorious Red Pepper tabloid, which Rolling
Stone appears to see as its chief rival. This time, Rolling Stone’s front
cover headline includes the admonition to “hang them,” while inside the
pages they included many people’s surnames in their descriptions, a practice
that Red Pepper had avoided.
It was in the aftermath of last years’ conference put on by three American
anti-gay activists that the Red Pepper joined a similar vigilante campaign
instigated by conference organizers. During that campaign, we began to
receive reports of mobs attacking LGBT people in the streets and police
"Uganda's Top 100 Homos" published in the October 2, 2010 edition of the
Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (Names, places and photo obscured by BTB.
Click to enlarge)
It remains to be seen whether this campaign will take hold or not, but
Rolling Stone isn’t leaving anything to chance. They’ve chosen a two-pronged
approach to stoking anti-gay hysteria. In addition to outing specific
people, Rolling Stone published an incredibly fanciful “investigation” into
the gay community. According to their imaginary findings:
Our research showed that most gays meet along Jinja Road based [redacted bar
name] in Kampala. They usually gather at this place on Fridays for meetings
and recruitment. It’s here that they assess the performance of their
recruitment drives and initiate new members.
During these meetings, new members are given nick names they will use in gay
circles. … Research also revealed that graduates are the biggest target as
they are desperate for opportunities of earning a living. They are promised
jobs in gay organisations abroad, monthly allowances and connections to rich
gays residing in United States, Norway, Canada and United Kingdom.
The new members are also provided with gay blue movies,a list of gay
websites and telephone numbers of representatives of gay organizations.
At the end of every month, gays usually gather at homes of gay organization
leaders… Wine is popped and sometimes gays engage in orgies. …We have
accessed secret videos of top citizens enjoying steamy gay sex.
This newspaper also discovered that most secondary schools and tertiary
institutions have been penetrated by gay activists to recruit kids… The
curriculum has been altered to include gay-promoting ideals with the view of
brainwashing kids toward bisexual orientation. An informer said so far
10,000 secondary students have been recruited while 100,000 graduates have
been enlisted in gay organizations.
This plays into two popular myths promulgated by anti-gay forces in Uganda.
The first myth is that the LGBT community represents a vast, well-organized
conspiracy to recruit children into homosexuality. The second myth is that
homosexuality is a Western import, facilitated by wealthy gay people abroad.
After naming several local and international NGO’s which are allegedly part
of this imaginary conspiracy, Rolling Stone adds:
An insider said that organizations receive funding in billions which is now
used to eat into the moral fabric of kids.
The inaugural edition of Rolling Stone, August 23, 2010.
Rolling Stone’s debut occurred just five weeks ago on August 23. The top
headline in its inaugural edition was “Rwenzori mineral water full of
feaces,” a description that would aptly fit the fledgling scandal sheet. The
editors trumpeted their new rag in a page 2 editorial:
Our esteemed readers, the much-awaited savior – The Rolling Stone newspaper,
is born today. We have liberated you from the monopoly of half-baked news,
inaccurate reports, deliberate misinformation and agents of propaganda and
populism. Under our motto “Nothing But The Truth”, we promise to strip all
facts bare and leave no stone unturned in exposing the evils in our
cherished society without fear or favour.
And black is white and up is down, in the greatest tradition of tabloid
“journalism.” The most amusing part is where the editors get to their
Based along Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road in Kampala, Rolling Stone is the only
newspaper in the country owned and managed by three youthful men who have
attended Mass Communication lectures at Makerere University.
Clearly, the six people named in the editorial — Managing editor Giles
Muhame, Editor Joseph Bahingwire, Advertising manager Cliff Abenaitwe, Brand
Manager Benjamin Rukwengye, HR Manager Collins Murangira, and Circulation
“Expert” Nicholas Mwesigwa — hadn’t bothered to actually graduate from a
journalism program, let alone pass a single course in ethics.
That inaugural issue also carried a mild preview of the gay-baiting that was
to come, with a comparatively timid article claiming that an un-named mayor
was “suspected to be gay.” But even in that brief one-paragraph article on
page five, Rolling Stone covers all the bases of anti-gay myth-making:
We have information that the politician, who travels abroad almost thrice a
month, has been holding gay meetings with a top city pastor and homosexuals
in the United States. At his home, we are told, he maintains a separate room
where he meets male visitors. It’s also rumoured that he receives lots of
dollars from US and Scandinavian countries to boost gay activities in
Uganda. He also recruits young children into gay organizations under the
guise of education sponsorships overseas. This eloquent man applies “make
up” on his face.
The September 24, 2010 edition of Red Pepper featuring asylum seeker Moses
Mworeko on the front cover (Click to enlarge)
It’s now five weeks later and that timidity has worn off.
Last week, the more established tabloid Red Pepper published an appalling
distortion of an interview originally published in Washington, D.C.’s Metro
Weekly by Ugandan asylum seeker Kushaba Moses Mworeko. This week, we have
this Rolling Stone’s clarion call to hunt down and lynch LGBT people, in
precisely the kind of vigilantism that has been Red Pepper’s trademark. It’s
not a stretch to see Rolling Stone’s effort as a direct challenge to Red
Pepper, to demonstrate which tabloid can be the most sensationalistic and
the most homophobic.
This raises the ugly possibility of a circulation war breaking out with LGBT
Ugandans bearing the brunt. We already noticed that Red Pepper’s Stanley
Nduala, who had written many of that paper’s outing articles, drives a shiny
Mercedes. Exposing gay people to mortal dangers and calling for their deaths
is a proven pathway to great riches in Uganda for reporters and newspaper
editors. And for Pentecostal preachers with ties to U.S. megachurches. That
works just as well.