Court bans media from outing gays
A Ugandan judge today ruled in favour of a petition to stop media companies from outing homosexuals.world Updated: Jan 03, 2011 19:51 IST
A Ugandan judge ruled in favour of a petition to stop media companies from outing homosexuals on Monday, a lawyer told AFP. The judge ruled that publishing the identities of people perceived to be homosexual, violated Uganda's constitutional right to privacy, said John Francis Onyango.
Onyango was representing three gay rights campaigners.
"The judge granted a permanent injunction against (the anti-gay tabloid) Rolling Stone from publishing these names," Onyango said. "But the ruling went beyond these applicants and extended to all media," he added.
The request for the ban was filed by three people from gay rights group, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), whose pictures and towns of residence were published in a previous issue of Rolling Stone.
High court judge, Vincent Musoke-Kibuuke also ruled that the petitioners' lives were threatened since the story exposed them to potential attacks from vigilantes, Onyango said. The petitioners were awarded 1.5 million Uganda shillings (about 650 dollars or 500 euros) and Rolling Stone was ordered to pay all legal fees incurred by SMUG.
"We think that the compensation is on the low side, but the principles here are very important," Onyango said.
In a previous hearing, the judge suggested that Uganda's law against homosexuality, defined as "carnal knowledge against the order of nature," should be re-examined.
In a series of issues last year, Rolling Stone outed more than 20 people whom its editor believed were gay. The editor, undergraduate student Giles Muhame, said he found some of the photos that were published on a gay dating website.
The high court case centred on one story headlined "Hang Them", in which an unidentified Evangelical pastor called for the execution of gay rights campaigners.
A lawyer for Rolling Stone argued that the three petitioners had voluntarily been identified in other media as gay rights leaders and therefore the tabloid could not be punished for restating their identities. The judge dismissed the argument, saying that the broader danger of outing gays in a tangibly homophobic country was the paramount issue.
One of the petitioners, Pepe Onziema, told AFP she was happy with the ruling.