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Last Updated: Friday, 8 September 2006, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Ugandan 'gay' name list condemned
Men holding hands
Homosexuality is banned in Uganda
A Ugandan newspaper's decision to publish the names of alleged homosexual men is a "chilling development", New York-based Human Rights Watch says.

Last month the Red Pepper paper printed 45 first names and professions or areas of work of alleged homosexual men.

HRW says the move could foreshadow a government crackdown in the country, where homosexuality is illegal.

But an editor at the paper told the BBC that it was not a witchhunt and that no man on the list was identifiable.

'Tolerant'

"It's one of the interesting things for people to read in a tabloid because in African societies homosexuality is still seen as strange," a Red Pepper editor, who asked not to be named, told the BBC News website.

For years, President Yoweri Museveni's government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays
HRW's Jessica Stern

"We've also printed a list of cheats - people unfaithful to their partners - also with first names etc, because people like reading about other people's vices," the editor said.

"We don't want to expose them (homosexuals) to the government and the police has never contacted us to investigate the list. This country is very very tolerant."

But HRW says the gay and lesbian community in Uganda has long been stigmatised and harassed by the government.

"For years, President Yoweri Museveni's government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual rights activists to harassment," said HRW's Jessica Stern.

"At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute."

The editor dismissed these fears: "People are not going to attack you or arrest you - I don't remember anybody being prosecuted in courts of law because someone's gay or lesbian."

However, he admitted that people were paranoid about having their names printed in the paper.

"People are calling here (the paper) to make sure their names are not named; others are calling and cursing us."

He said the paper was considering publishing the names of lesbians, but a decision had not yet been taken.


SEE ALSO
'My life as a gay Ugandan Christian'
27 Oct 03 |  Manchester
Fine for Ugandan radio gay show
03 Oct 04 |  Africa
Ghanaian gay conference banned
01 Sep 06 |  Africa
Homosexuality in Africa
28 Jun 02 |  AfricaLive
Country profile: Uganda
21 Jul 04 |  Country profiles

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