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Ugandan tabloid publishes list of country’s ‘200 top homos’

Red Pepper’s mass outing comes one day after president signed new anti-gay law

The Feb 25 front page of the Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper outs the country’s “200 top homos,” sometimes providing full names, sometimes nicknames and hints. Credit: Courtesy of Rex Wockner

A Ugandan tabloid published the identities of what it calls the country’s “200 top homos” on Feb 25. The article follows Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s signing of a strict new anti-gay law that will punish repeated homosexual sex, among other offences, with life in prison.

The tabloid Red Pepper ran page after page of gleeful descriptions of gay activity, sometimes providing full names and sometimes nicknames or hints. The text, frequently attributed to common knowledge or anonymous sources, is scattered with words such as “bum driller” and “sodomite” and paints a vague picture of a wealthy, foreign-recruited homosexual underworld.

One entry, giving the first name of an allegedly gay fashion designer, reads, “Just one glance at him is enough to judge his sexual orientation thanks to his girly ways of wearing body hugging pants and carrying handbags in the name of a man-purse . . . Close pals to this dude reveal that he takes pride in being a bum driller and on more than two occasions admitted to being a bum driller.”

A Ugandan gay activist, David Kato, was beaten to death in 2011 after another tabloid, Rolling Stone, published his name and picture under the banner “Hang them.” Kato successfully sued for an injunction against Rolling Stone to prevent the paper from publishing the names of any other gay people. Just weeks later, he was found dead in his home in Kampala.  

This is not the first time that Red Pepper has published a list of gay people. In 2006, the paper published 45 first names and occupations of allegedly gay men.

The law against “aggravated homosexuality,” signed Feb 24 by Museveni, adds harsher punishments to the country’s existing anti-gay laws. The new law will punish “serial offenders,” as well as those who have gay sex with minors or while HIV-positive, with life imprisonment.

“Aiding and abetting homosexuality” and “conspiracy to engage in homosexuality” are both punishable by seven years in prison.