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Ugandan tabloid publishes new 'gay list'

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Interview with persecuted gay Ugandan
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tabloid names 10 people its says are gay, and it lists their addresses
  • People were attacked the last time the paper did this
  • Its editor urges readers not to attack people but report them to police
  • Bll imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality being considered in parliament

Kampala, Uganda (CNN) -- The editor of a tabloid in Uganda who argues that homosexuality is more dangerous than smoking, has published a list of 10 gay and lesbian people in the African nation, urging readers to report them to the police.

It's the second time that Rolling Stone -- no relation to the iconic U.S. music magazine -- has published such a list.

Last time it listed 100 of what it called the country's top gays and lesbians, with photos and addresses alongside a yellow banner reading "hang them."

Gay rights groups in Uganda say at least four people have been attacked since then.

And a bill that would make homosexuality potentially punishable by death is working its way through Uganda's parliament.

Video: Ugandan editor speaks out

The new gay list includes addresses and alleged intimate details about the anatomy of people on it.

Editor Giles Muhame, 22, has discouraged readers to physically attack people on the list, but he claims gay people are going to schools and "recruiting" schoolchildren.

He says the bill imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality will become law when Uganda begins drilling oil and becomes less dependent on foreign donors.

The Ugandan lawmaker behind the bill says told CNN last week it will become law "soon."

"We are very confident," David Bahati said, "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."

Governments that have donated aid to Uganda and human rights groups have applied massive pressure since the bill was proposed a year ago, and most believed that the bill had been since shelved.

Not so, says Bahati, adding, "Every single day of my life now I am still pushing that it passes."

This is a piece of legislation that is needed in this country to protect the traditional family here in Africa.
--David Bahati
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  • Uganda

Stosh Mugisha was attacked after Rolling Stone ran its first list of alleged homosexuals.

On the day that the tabloid was published, people started pointing at her and commenting, she says.

Later that night, a crowd gathered outside her house.

"People were throwing stones through the gate," says Mugisha, "They were shouting, 'Homosexual homosexual!' I started getting scared."

Mugisha and her partner of one year had to flee their house the next morning, narrowly escaping stoning. Now they are in hiding.

"They start bringing in these issues like, 'How can you be born gay? How can you be born lesbian?' They really don't know that we have battled to stand and be who we are," Mugisha says.

Tabloid editor Muhame was unrepentant, saying homosexuality is a virus spreading through the world. He said the aim was to target Ugandan homosexuals who were recruiting "converts in schools."

"We thought, by publishing that story, the police would investigate them, prosecute them, and hang them," says Muhame.

While extreme views to many, in Uganda even this sentiment holds some weight. Uganda is a mostly Christian country where local and international, particularly American, evangelicals hold great sway.

Just under two-thirds of Uganda's Christians favor making the Bible the law of the land, according to a huge study of religion in Africa by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Together with Ugandan politicians and preachers, they have lobbied for greater punishments for gays.

Mugisha says she used to be a Christian, but the constant harassment she receives for wearing pants, rather than a dress or skirt, or for wearing a baseball cap and being "boyish" as she calls it, means she has lost her faith.

She says Uganda is no place for gays and lesbians.

And Bahati, the lawmaker, agrees.

"God has given us different freedoms, our democracy is giving us different freedoms, but I don't think anyone has the freedom to commit a crime," he says. "And homosexuality in our country is a crime, it's criminal."

Journalist Tom Walsh and CNN's David McKenzie and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

 
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