Framing Ugandan homophobia in a global context

Attacks on gay, lesbian and transgender people have started to happen in Uganda following the outing of 100 LGBT people on October 4th in the Ugandan Rolling Stone. At the time a friend of mine sent me scans of the photos [which I refused to publish and I think we should begin to be a bit more selective on how we give space to homophobic media] and I noticed the photos of him and a few others were taken from their latest Facebook profiles. There is a tendency to take Facebook as a safe personal space. It is not, and we all need to realise that Facebook is a security risk in many different ways and act accordingly.

I cant help but think there is a connection between the latest outings in Uganda and the number of homophobic statements, bullying and murders of LGBTI people here in the US as well as the growing homonationalism in the West as a whole. It’s easy to simply lay the blame on the Christian Evangelical right like The Family and The Call. But it’s much deeper and more widespread than that. In the US and Europe, it is becoming more and more OK to be openly homophobic just as it is becoming more and more OK to be openly racist particularly if these are framed in an anti-immigration / anti-Islamic language in which white mainstream LGBT media and groups are themselves complicit. A candidate for governor of New York can stand up and declare he does not think homosexuality is a valid option and in the next breath say he is not homophobic, not “anti-gay”. A radio host can repeatedly use the N-word and claim she is not racist. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are full of homophobic threads and pages. Only last Sunday there was a vicious homophobic thread in parts of the Nigerian Twittersphere following photos of local celebrity, Charly Boy and his alleged lover. This reminded me of the jokes which preceded the broadcasting of the video of Tyler Clementi also on Twitter and which may have led to his suicide a few days later.

So let’s stop making Africa and homophobia a media “spectacle” and start to try to understand what is happening globally and how the various homophobias, racisms and normative attitudes and actions work to support each other and in some ways actually become obstacles to change.

Below is a report on Uganda from the Irish Times

AT LEAST four gay Ugandans have been attacked and many more are in hiding following the publication of an article in the country’s Rolling Stone newspaper, which called for “the hanging of homos”.

The article, titled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak”, claimed the country’s gay community was trying to “recruit” one million children and that a deadly disease causing “shattered flesh” was spreading through it.

It was accompanied by names, photos and the contact details of gay people in the country. Rolling Stone, which only began publishing six weeks ago, is not affiliated with the American title of the same name.

Brian Nkoyooyo, director of Ice Breakers Uganda, says that one gay rights activist had stones thrown at her house while other people have been attacked in bars and in their own houses. Continued here