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  • on 18.02.2011
  • at 02:00 PM
  • by Staff

My life as a gay Ugandan 0

KAMPALA – In January, a judge ruled in favour of a group of gay individuals stating that all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation, have a right to privacy and dignity. One of the plaintiffs recounted her story to the Kampala Dispatch.

‘On 4 October, I woke up as usual, with my niece sleeping near me. She was put in my bed every morning so that when I awoke, the first thing I see is her smiling face. I was flying to Geneva that evening for a human rights conference where one of the topics of discussion would be Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill. Everything seemed normal about that morning, until I checked my e-mail.

In addition to the normal e-mails, I found one from a man named Josh Kron, a reporter from the New York Times, in New York. The subject was: “Is it true?”
The body of the e-mail consisted of a few simple questions asking whether or not a Ugandan tabloid called The Rolling Stone had written about me, naming me as a lesbian. I had never even heard of The Rolling Stone and wrote him back to tell him I wasn’t aware of ever having spoken with such a publication.

Shortly afterwards, Frank Mugisha, a friend of mine, who had also been listed by the tabloid as a gay Ugandan, sent me an e-mail with a scanned copy of the tabloid newspaper. There it was: my picture, my name, and the headline: “100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS.” Beneath the headline were the words, “Hang Them!”

I panicked. But the full article was worse. When I read it, my heart almost stopped. The article claimed that I threw parties and orgies for homosexuals at my house and that I wanted to brainwash children into being homosexual. They even quoted me as saying, “We are targeting those as young as 12 years old, as they are easy to persuade to join gay groups.”

I have never said such a thing, I have never even thought such a thing – and if someone was throwing homosexual orgies at my house, they never invited me. But I couldn’t do anything right then, I had to fly to Geneva, where as a leading voice of the human rights movement for sexual minorities in Uganda, I was presenting a report on Uganda to a UN committee.

But every time I checked my e-mail, I found more and more requests for a comment from reporters about my supposed quote. I didn’t know how to respond. I had never faced a lie so ugly and so huge. I had never imagined a call for me to be hanged. And I had reason to fear, because in addition to their lies, Rolling Stone had published my home address and workplace. Anyone who decided that he should take Rolling Stone’s advice to hang me knew exactly where I could be found. When I got a full copy of the paper that night, I passed it around, and began to shout, “Enough is enough! These guys can’t get away with this!” But for the next two weeks, I felt too scared to do anything. I was afraid that if I spoke up, someone would hurt me.

The following week, Rolling Stone printed more photos, and I knew that if I didn’t do something to stop them, eventually, someone would get hurt. All the news I got from home was terrible. People who had their photo published had been attacked, had rocks thrown at them, and some had to leave their homes. They were too afraid to even file police reports.

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