Thirteen alleged lesbians have been outed by the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper on Friday September 8, weeks after outing 45 alleged gay men last month, says UK Gay Rights organisation, OutRage!. The women include two boutique owners, a basketball player and the daughters of a former MP and a prominent Sheikh.
Under the headline, “Kampala’s Notorious Lesbians Unearthed”, the sleazy tabloid published a photo of two unnamed women embracing at a party. The article urged readers to phone the newspaper with details of any lesbians they know:
“To rid our motherland of the deadly vice (lesbianism), we are committed to exposing all the lesbos in the city. Send more names us (sic) the name and occupation of the lesbin (sic) in your neighbourhood and we shall shame her,” Red Pepper urged.
“I know that some women are definitely going to lose what they have; jobs, homes, families, and friends,” commented a Ugandan lesbian activist. “It is time that gays and lesbians in Uganda stand together to fight the negative reporting of the press,” she added.
Ugandan campaigners are relieved that only 13 alleged lesbians were named – having feared that 20 to 40 women were going to be outed. Some activists suspect that Red Pepper may have scaled back its outing campaign following international protests after it outed 45 alleged gay and bisexual men in August.
There have been a series of government-backed attacks on the Ugandan LGBTI community in the last year, including an illegal police raid on the home of the lesbian leader of Uganda’s LGBTI movement, Victor Juliet Mukasa, in July 2005.
Red Pepper is reportedly owned by Salim Saleh said to be the half-brother of the homophobic President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni.
The outing of lesbians is the latest in a series lurid, sensationalist homophobic exposes by Red Pepper. Last week, it published the name and photo of a young gay man who is being sought by the police on charges of homosexuality.
Gay sex is punishable in Uganda by life imprisonment, under laws originally introduced by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century.
The same newspaper outed 45 supposedly gay and bisexual men in August. The men outed last month include army officers, priests, university lecturers, entertainers, bankers, students and lawyers. It also published details of five venues popular with gays and lesbians.
Ugandan LGBTI activists regard the outings as an open invitation to the police and queer-bashers to ‘have a go.’ They fear increased state and vigilante persecution.