Uganda's Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Butoro says that stories of persecution of gays and lesbians in his country are lies. He also expects the infamous "kill-the-gays" bill to pass Uganda's legislature "in due course."
A tabloid newspaper called "The Rolling Stone" (not related to the US publication) has ceased publication, not because it printed a list a people they said were gay or lesbian under the banner "Hang Them High" but because the publishers did not secure the proper permits. As soon as it get those permits, the presses will roll again.
Ethics and Integrity Minister James Nsaba Butoro dismisses the reports that LGBT people are being attacked:“They [the activists] are always lying,” Buturo said. “It’s their way of mobilizing support from outside, they are trying to get sympathy from outside. It’s part of the campaign.”
Buturo also told CNN that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been held in Parliamentary committee for most of the year, will be debated in Parliament and passed “in due course.” He added, “Of course I hope it passes.”
The bill, if passsed in its current form, would impose the death penalty on LGBT people under certain circumstances (including if the individual is HIV-positive or is a “serial offender”). It would also impose a three year sentence on anyone who failed to report an LGBT person to police within 24 hours of learning of that fact. The bill would also outlaw all free speech and advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people in Uganda, and provide for extradition of LGBT Ugandans living abroad for prosecution back home.
Those named in the story have had to move or change jobs. Some are reaching out for help. Many just hide out of fear, CNN reports.
"For me, the first thing that crossed my mind was, 'how can this country allow such things to happen?" said Julian Pepe, who was also named in the story.
"They were calling for our hanging, they are asking people to take the law into their hands. We are all terrified."
The 29-year-old said she's a lesbian.
"I came out when I was 12, I have supportive parents who have been there for me," said Pepe, a program coordinator for Sexual Minorities Uganda.
"We are providing some with psychological support," she said. "People have been attacked, we are having to relocate others, some are quitting their jobs because they are being verbally abused. It's a total commotion."