Ugandan 'homosexuals' named in Red Pepper paper

  • Published
Red Pepper story (25 February 2014)
Image caption,
The Red Pepper tabloid is one of Uganda's biggest selling newspapers

A Ugandan tabloid has named the country's "200 top homosexuals", a day after President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill toughening penalties for gay people.

Red Pepper's list appeared under the headline: "Exposed", raising concerns of a witch-hunt against gay people.

Western governments have condemned Mr Museveni's decision to approve the bill.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where most people oppose homosexuality.

Homosexual acts were already illegal in Uganda, but the new law bans the promotion of homosexuality and covers lesbians for the first time.

In 2011, Ugandan gay activist David Kato was killed in what rights activists said was a homophobic attack.

His name had appeared on a list published by the now-defunct Ugandan Rolling Stone magazine, calling for the execution of gay people.

Aid threat

The BBC's Ali Mutasa reports from the capital, Kampala, that many of the people named on Red Pepper's list are known to be homosexuals, and some of them live abroad.

The list also includes some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay, the Associated Press news agency reports.

"The media witch-hunt is back," tweeted Jacqueline Kasha, a prominent Ugandan lesbian activist who appears on Red Pepper's list.

Media caption,

There was applause as Yoweri Museveni claimed: "Society can do something about it to discourage the trend"

Well-known gay rights activist Pepe Julian Onziema is also on the list, along with a popular hip-hop star and a Catholic priest, AP reports.

On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Mr Museveni's decision to sign the bill was a "tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights".

"Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programmes, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values,'' he said in a statement.

Uganda receives a reported $400m (£240m) in annual aid from the US.

Sweden's Development Assistance Minister Hillevi Engstrom called Mr Museveni's decision "terrible" and said that direct aid to Uganda, worth about $10.8m, could be withdrawn.

As a result of the new law, the Netherlands has stopped a $9.6m subsidy to Uganda's judicial system.

Norway and Denmark said they would transfer direct aid - together totalling about $17m - to non-governmental organisations.

Mr Museveni signed a watered-down version of the bill on Monday, which includes life sentences for gay sex and same-sex marriage

However, a clause criminalising those who do not report gay people was removed as well as a proposed sentence of up to 14 years for first-time offenders.

Earlier, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Reuters news agency Mr Museveni wanted "to demonstrate Uganda's independence in the face of Western pressure and provocation".

The sponsor of the bill, MP David Bahati, insisted homosexuality was a "behaviour that can be learned and can be unlearned".

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