Hackers Attack Ugandan Government Websites to Protest Homophobia

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on Advocate.com August 15 2012 2:25 PM ET

The group of hackers calling themselves Anonymous has targeted websites for Uganda's government in retaliation for its intolerance of LGBT citizens.

"We currently have full control of the President of Uganda's website," wrote a hacker on PasteBin, as noted by eSecurityPlanet. The hackers used that access to post fake messages.

Visitors to a website for Uganda's prime minister would probably be shocked, for example, to find a newly posted, official recognition of Gay Pride Week that includes a formal apology to gay people from the prime minister himself.

One of the early fake posts included a photo from an actual gay pride event held in the country. The photo was originally published by The Advocate's website with permission from the event's organizers but was used without permission by Anonymous as part of its protest.

Melanie Nathan, the blogger who wrote about the photos, was critical of Anonymous's use of the image because she said it could put in danger an activist who it featured and who wasn't involved in the hacking. Nathan had praised Pride participants in her article on The Advocate's website for bravely taking part in the events in a country that criminalizes gay sex and that has proposed the infamous "kill the gays" legislation, which has so far languished in Parliament.

"While I support all protests against the anti-gay Ugandan Government, I  fear this may cause a backlash to the LGBTI community of activists who so bravely showed their faces at Pride," Nathan wrote on her blog, oblogdeeoblogda. Nathan quoted one of the activists who had attended Uganda's first pride events despite the risks and who wants the protest by Anonymous to end.

"My concern is the manner in which Anonymous claim to speak on behalf of Uganda LGBT activists with no consultation whatsoever," Val Kalende told Nathan. "Those well-meaning interventions can cause severe backlash for activists on the ground. Hacking government websites to 'help' victims of state-sponsored homophobia? Who does that? I think this extremist violent intervention MUST STOP."

Activist David Kato was beaten to death with a hammer in 2011 by a man who used a "gay panic" defense when he eventually went on trial. Enoch Nsubuga was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder.

In messages on PasteBin, the hackers appear resolute and claim to have infiltrated other Ugandan websites.

"We will not stand by while LGBT Ugandans are victimized, abused and murdered by a ruthless and corrupt government," wrote the Anonymous hacker on PasteBin, threatening to continue to attacks "until the government of Uganda treats all people including LGBT equally and with respect, dignity and immediately ends the arrest and harassment of LGBT."