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Uganda tabloid publishes list of ‘top’ gay people, sparks fears of mob violence

Back in 2010, a tabloid's media witchhunt for homosexuals led to at least one death of a gay rights activist. Now in 2014, a list has been published again

Uganda tabloid publishes list of ‘top’ gay people, sparks fears of mob violence

A Ugandan tabloid has printed a list of the ‘top 200’ homosexuals today (25 February), a day after the president signed one of the most draconic homophobic bills in the world into law.

The Red Pepper tabloid has published the names, some who have not been outed before, in a front-page story under the headline: ‘EXPOSED!’

The list includes prominent Ugandan gay activists such as Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Pepe Julian Onziema and Frank Mugisha, who have been instrumental in the fight against the country’s homophobia.

With some pictures, activists have warned this kind of action will only spark mob violence and the ‘hunting down’ of prominent homosexuals.

Also on the list was a popular Ugandan hip-hop star as well as a Catholic priest.

Back in 2010, a similar list was published by Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone. The names and photos were published under the headline of ‘HANG THEM’ and accompanied by the individuals’ addresses.

It led to at least one death, the murder of gay rights activist and SMUG member David Kato.

Onziema, who spoke to Gay Star News shortly after the bill was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, said his biggest fear now are the mob attacks.

‘They call their bill “theirs”. It is not. They don’t understand it. The law doesn’t allow you to go attack people. It’s a badge of violent ignorance,’ he said.

‘I am afraid of a hunt. Some of us, my face particularly, is well known everywhere.

‘They will attack anyone who they suspect is gay. This was happening before it was made law, and it will only increase. They are probably on the hunt now.’

Onziema said he had counted up to six arrests and that more than a dozen Ugandan gay people have fled the country since December over safety concerns. At least eight have attempted suicide, with three succeeding.

The new law punishes homosexuality with up to life in jail.

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