The repression and harassment of gays, lesbians and transgender people is getting worse and worse by the day in Uganda and in Ghana.
“The situation for lesbians and gays in Uganda is getting highly threatening. To give you an abstract, the Red Pepper – a Ugandan newspaper – published a list of gay men in Uganda, on the 8th August 2006. The advertisement of the names was followed by arrests and hate crimes. As you might be aware of, homosexuality is illegal and fined with drastic punishments in Uganda. Latest news talk about hunted gays, please read the attached scanned article!
We got informed that the Red Pepper is probably going to publish a list of Ugandan lesbians and bisexual women by tomorrow , Friday 8 September . As an highly homophobic country, the situation for lesbians can easily become even worse than for gay men. Being doubled discriminate against, as women and as lesbians, Ugandan lesbians struggle towards an independent life; most of them depending on their families, relatives and particularly on their friends or are homeless. If the Red Pepper is going to publish their names, their situation is getting horrifying.”
On August 8th the Ugandan weekly paper Red Pepper published an article titled “Gay Shock!” This article had a list of names, places of work and areas of residence of 45 men alleged to be homosexuals.
In the article Red Pepper denounced homosexuality as “an abominable sin, in fact a mortal sin that’s against nature”, The paper is entitled to express any view about homosexuality it wishes, but to steep so low as to make allegations against Ugandan civilians is another matter altogether.
Being homosexual is still stigmatized in the society, and acts of same sex sexuality are criminalized. That is why Red Pepper can use allegations of homosexuality to cause sensation. Even if one accept that human sexuality is diverse, it should be an individual’s own choice how and when to share information about their sexuality with family, friends and colleagues.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) every person has a right to privacy (UDHR, Article 12). This right has clearly been broken by Red Pepper’s article. It is difficult to imagine that this article is anything but a salacious and malicious act of defamation that will cause hurt and damage to the lives of these individuals. Further, the article that Red Pepper has printed amounts to inciting violence against these people. Article 7 of UDHR guarantees the right to equality and freedom from discrimination; these rights are being undermined by Red Pepper’s article.
It may be argued that these rights do not pertain to homosexuals, as acts of homosexuality are considered to be criminal offences in Uganda. We do not know the truth about the sexuality of the 45 men named in Red Pepper. The point we want to make is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights do not make exceptions; “Human rights are the inalienable rights that a person has simply because he or she is a human being.” This means that you cannot lose these rights any more than you can cease being human. Human rights are also defined as those basic standards that people need to live in dignity. To violate someone’s human rights is to treat that person as less than a human being.
It is our opinion that Red Pepper is violating the human rights of the 45 men, whose names were published, breaching both Ugandan law and International law. The editor, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, should take his ethical and social responsibility seriously and make a public apology for the damage he has caused.
For further information on actions you can take – contact: annika at skeivsolidaritet dot no