picketed the Ugandan High Commission in London on
Friday in protest of the persecution of gay and lesbian
Ugandans. They were from the National Union of
Students LGBT campaign and from the gay rights group OutRage!
Recently, Uganda publicly outed 58 alleged
lesbians and gay men, sparking an outcry of criticism
from gay groups. A letter was presented to the Ugandan
high commissioner urging respect for the human rights of
"Uganda is the new Zimbabwe," said
Peter Tatchell of OutRage! "President Yoweri Museveni
is the Robert Mugabe of Uganda, a homophobic tyrant
who tramples on democracy and human rights. Uganda's
antigay laws were imposed by the British colonialists who
occupied the country, stole its wealth, and abused its people."
The central African country outlaws male
homosexuality under laws originally imposed by the
British colonizers in the 19th century.Offenders face
a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Lesbians and gay men are subjected to
vigilante violence by homophobic mobs, especially in
rural areas where most of the population live,
activists said. Civil rights groups, including Amnesty
International, have been critical of the Ugandan government
for allowing the abuses to go on.
The latest outrage is an outing campaign by the
Ugandan tabloid newspaper Red Pepper, which is
reportedly owned by Museveni's half-brother. Activists
say Museveni has urged police to hunt down and arrest gay
men and lesbians.
Red Pepper has outed 58 alleged lesbians and gays in
the last two months and has urged readers to send more
names so they too can be outed. The paper also
published a list of underground gay venues, exposing them
to the risk of homophobic attack.
Recently Red Pepper carried an article
headlined "Jinja Cops Hunt for Gays," reporting a
police manhunt to arrest gays and lesbians in the
city of Jinga.
Said the main organizer of the protest, Claire
Anderson of the National Union of Students' LGBT
campaign: "We call on individuals and groups,
LGBT or otherwise, to protest against the intimidation,
arrest, and torture of LGBT people in Uganda." (Gay.com/U.K.)