The High Court of Uganda ruled that the Rolling Stone had violated the constitutional rights to privacy and safety and has awarded the three plaintiffs damages of £400 each plus a warning to the magazine not to repeat the outings. This is fantastic news and a tremendous win for LGBTI people in Uganda. Congratulations to Kasha Jacqueline, Pepe Onziema and David Kato who had the courage to fight this case.
The front page of Rolling Stone, started by journalism graduates from Makerere University in Kampala, claimed that the country’s homosexual community aimed to “recruit 1,000,000 children by 2012”, and that parents “face heart-breaks [sic] as homos raids schools”. Inside, a headline read: “Hang them; They are after our kids!!”
It was published shortly before the first anniversary of the introduction to Uganda’s parliament of a controversial anti-homosexuality bill calling for the death penalty for those convicted of repeated same-sex relations. Inspired at least in part by a group of US evangelicals with close links to Uganda, the bill stalled after an international outcry, though it has not been scrapped.
The Civil Society Coalition said it had filed a complaint against the newspaper on behalf of three members, and the high court had ordered Rolling Stone not to publish any further such stories. According to the group the court ruling, released today, noted that the issue was not homosexuality but the “fundamental rights and freedoms” of those named, particularly through the incitement to violence.
Adrian Jjuuko, from the group, said: “The ruling firmly establishes the principle that constitutionally protected rights belong to all Ugandans, whatever their perceived sexuality.”