Uganda tabloid editor says hang gays story was a mistake

The Ugandan newspaper editor who sparked demands for gays to be hanged has admitted he waged a campaign of hate but says it cost his paper its future

Uganda tabloid editor says hang gays story was a mistake
23 October 2012

The now defunct Rolling Stone’s tabloid published a notorious article in 2010, entitled: ’100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak’ with a picture of a noose and the further caption – ‘HANG THEM!’

The Article used pictures including a hangman’s noose to out gays and lesbians in Uganda, causing untold harm, including ostracizing, beatings and arrests of some Ugandans, while others fled the country.

It has now emerged that its editor, Giles Muhame, has told students at the University of Victoria, Kampala, Uganda, that he ‘regrets’ the way they reported the story – though he stopped short of a full apology.

In his speech Muhame said: ‘The Rolling Stone made mistakes, which I regret and think, should have been avoided. 

‘It was the youthful adrenaline that overrode our reason. It was not necessary to wage a campaign for the hanging of gays. I think we could have prepared a better story without jeopardizing the safety of a minority group.

The story under the headline “Hang Them” cost the newspaper its future. It’s not a good thing to be known for doing the wrong thing.’

Muhame lost a lawsuit brought against him and the tabloid by Ugandan gay activists including the late David Kato, who was brutally murdered.

He was then ordered to retract the publication and pay shs 4.5million to the gay activists who sued him.

However Muhame previously vowed to ignore the judgement through a press release referring to his victims as ‘shamed homos’ and stated further: ‘We would have paid them but doing so is as good as paying a tribute to those who promote sexual identity confusion and related madness. We remain strong and indeed in times of war, losses are expected.’

Melanie Nathan, a South African advocate for LGBTI human rights, now based in San Francisco, immediately issued a complaint about the invitation to the University, through her advocacy firm Private Courts, Inc.

‘Your Journalism Department at Victoria University invited one of the world’s most unethical and disrespected ‘journalists’ to speak to its students.

‘Even though he has made this admission, it was inadequate and self-serving.

‘Under the circumstances this invitation was highly offensive to all journalists and also the LGBT communities around the world. The Ugandan leaks went viral and Muhame’s actions were deadly.

‘Furthermore, Giles Muhame has yet to apologize or make amends to the LGBTI community and the specific people he harmed.’

Following Nathan’s complaint, deputy vice-chancellor Dr. David Young, of the University of Victoria, Kampala, Uganda, issued an apology this week, indicating the University’s regret at hosting Giles Muhame.

Young wrote: ‘Expressions of regret for having caused extreme harm are only convincing if complete and unreserved. Unreserved and unqualified regret and apology should certainly be a minimum condition for re-acceptance in the worldwide academic community.

‘Had the Vice-Chancellor’s office known about this invitation and the background of the individual the invitation would have been withdrawn.

‘Victoria University abhors and condemns unequivocally the statements made in Rolling Stone and elsewhere which incited hatred of, or violence against, individuals or groups of people. We apologize for having provided a platform which was likely to cause offence to those people affected by these unacceptable statements’.

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