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Ugandan tabloid prints list of 'top 200' homosexuals

Correspondent
A Ugandan newspaper has published a list of what it called the country's "200 top" homosexuals, outing some who previously had not identified themselves as gay, one day after the president enacted a harsh anti-gay law.

US secretary of state John Kerry said Monday's signing of the bill by President Yoweri Museveni marked "a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights" and warned that Washington could cut aid. "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," Kerry said in a statement.

The Red Pepper tabloid published the names and some pictures in a front-page story under the headline: "EXPOSED!"

The list included prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Pepe Julian Onziema, who has repeatedly warned that Uganda's new anti-gay law could spark violence against homosexuals. There was also a popular Ugandan hip-hop star as well as a Catholic priest.

Few Ugandans identify themselves as gay, and the tabloid's publication of alleged homosexuals recalled a similar list published in 2011 by a now-defunct tabloid that called for the execution of gay people. A Ugandan judge later condemned the outing of homosexuals in a country where they face severe discrimination, saying it amounted to an invasion of privacy. A prominent Ugandan gay activist was killed after that list came out, and activists said they believed David Kato was targeted because of his work promoting gay rights in Uganda.

The new law punishes gay sex with up to life in jail, a measure criticised as draconian in a country where homosexuality already had been criminalised. The bill originally proposed the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality,"

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defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner was infected with HIV. The law also calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail.

In signing the bill, Museveni said the measure was needed because the west was promoting homosexuality in Africa. He rejected widespread international criticism of the law as interference in Uganda's internal affairs.

Museveni accused "arrogant and careless western groups" of trying to recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality, but he did not name these purported groups.

Ugandan police spokesman Patrick Onyango said on Tuesday that no homosexuals had been arrested since Museveni signed the bill but that at least two people had been taken into custody since lawmakers passed it last December.

Onziema said he had counted up to six arrests and that more than a dozen Ugandan homosexuals had fled the country since December over safety concerns.

Homosexuality has long been criminalised in Uganda under a colonial-era law that outlawed sex acts "against the order of nature."

Some Ugandan lawyers and activists have said they will challenge the law in court as unconstitutional and impossible to implement.

On Tuesday, Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer who runs a rights watchdog group called Chapter Four, said it would make life worse for gay people in Uganda.

"The enactment of the anti-homosexuality bill has only emboldened the ... population in their rejection of anybody perceived to be gay or even friendly to gays," he said. "These things are going to continue. They are going to get more frequent."

The Guardian



World

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