List of “top gays” leads to violence and conflict
By Jamie Floyd
Following the release of a Ugandan newspapers’ list of the top 100 homosexuals in the country, members of Ugandan parliament are optimistic that an anti-gay bill will soon become law.
Said bill would add to the already present law in Uganda, which punishes homosexuality with up to 14 years in prison, by raising it to life in prison and possibly the death penalty.
“We are very confident,” David Bahati, the member of the Ugandan parliament who introduced the bill told CNN, “because this is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa, and also protect the future of our children.”
The debate over the anti-gay bill was reignited earlier last month due to Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone’s list, which detailed names, addresses as well as photos of individuals suspected of being gay.
Julian Pepe, a program co-ordinator for Sexual Minorities Uganda, is appalled by the whole ordeal, as she told CNN, “They [Ugandan government] were calling for our hanging, they are asking people to take the law into their hands. We are all terrified.” Pepe, who came out as a lesbian at age 12, is worried about the on-going consequences the list will have on the affected individuals. “We are providing some with psychological support,” she said. “People have been attacked, we are having to relocate others, some are quitting their jobs because they are being verbally abused. It’s a total commotion.”
This is not the first time controversy has erupted over the anti-gay bill. First proposed last October, the bill was met with complete shock and disbelief by various European countries as well as American President Barack Obama who called the bill “odious.” At one time, the bill, which also calls for the death penalty to those having sex while HIV positive and/or with minors, as well as punishment for those refusing to report homosexuals was believed to have been disregarded, but was not.
In response to the protests by Ugandan gay activists, Gilles Muhame, editor of the Rolling Stone, said it was his duty as a journalist to “expose the evil in our society,” as reported by the website pinknews.co.uk.
As of Monday, the newspaper has published 10 more names of suspected homosexuals.