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Ugandan Anti-Gay Law Sparks Newspaper Exposé, Backlash from U.S. Lawmakers

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Posted on Feb 25, 2014

  The reaction from Capitol Hill to Uganda’s anti-gay law was resoundingly negative, although some legislators cautioned against cutting back on U.S. assistance. Mjw23 (CC-BY-SA)

In the aftermath of the passage of Uganda’s new law sanctioning severe penalties, including life in prison, for homosexual acts, a local newspaper printed a list of the country’s “Top 200 Homosexuals.”

That would be Red Pepper, a Ugandan tabloid, clearly supporting President Yoweri Museveni’s crackdown on the LGBTQ population by naming Ugandans both within their home country and in other parts of the world, the BBC reported Tuesday:

The BBC’s Ali Mutasa reports from the capital, Kampala, that many of the people named on Red Pepper’s list are known to be homosexuals, and some of them live abroad.

The list also includes some Ugandans who previously had not identified themselves as gay, the Associated Press news agency reports.

“The media witch-hunt is back,” tweeted Jacqueline Kasha, a prominent Ugandan lesbian activist who appears on Red Pepper’s list.

Meanwhile, American legislators on Capitol Hill registered their disapproval of the Ugandan policy as did Secretary of State John Kerry, who called for a review of U.S. aid to the African nation. Some members of Congress agreed, according to Voice of America:

At the U.S. Capitol, Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona said the United States cannot ignore the Ugandan law.

“It is outrageous. It is wrong. And it ought to, and I am sure it will, affect our relations with that country,” he said, calling the law of a violation of human rights.

Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said he is appalled that, in the wake of the signing of the law, a Ugandan newspaper published a long list of names of suspected gay people in the country.

“I am very troubled by this,” Kaine said. “And I think the United States needs to seriously explore every lever we have at our disposal to get [Uganda] to back away from this policy. And if they will not back away — and they are a sovereign nation and they can make their own decision — it means that we need to reexamine any program we have that is supportive of a government that would embrace those kinds of policies.”

Institutionalized homophobia isn’t unique to Uganda; take a look at the BBC’s interactive map of the places around the world where homosexuality is illegal.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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