Sunday, 14 November 2010

Is American money behind the Ugandan tabloid linking gays and terrorism?

By Paul Canning

The Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone received world publicity for its 'outing' campaign against lesbians and gays. This led to documented attacks against some of those named and legal action to stop the naming which secured a rare victory for local LGBT in a Ugandan court. It also led to calls for a way to be found for threatened people to obtain visas for the USA and Canada.

Box Turtle Bulletin reported that the second edition of Rolling Stone published only twelve pages, about half the size of the two previous editions, with an almost complete lack of advertising (there are only two ads). They suggest that this raises questions about where the funding is coming from and reported that in that second edition its Editor Giles Muhame wrote “I wish you knew who is behind us!! You would stop barking.”

Adds Box Turtle Bulletin:
One clue over who is [funding] the vigilante campaign can be found in some of the rhetoric published in this edition. For example, in the page-two article, we find:
Homosexuality involves “fisting” where one puts a hand in the rectum and may end up destroying it, causing fatal injuries, inflammation and transmission of HIV. No wonder homosexuals usually seal the butts with tiny pillows — to save the shattered buttocks from pain if they were to sit on a wooden chair.
This passage contains striking parallels to the rhetoric of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa, who was famously derided the world over for his “eat da poo-poo” appearance on the Current TV documentary “Missionaries of Hate.” The article also names an unnamed source saying that the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill,, which provides for the death penalty for homosexuality under certain circumstances, will be passed once Uganda becomes “an oil producer.” This, too, echoes the argument that Ssempa put forward on Uganda’s state broadcaster UBC last December.
Ssempa has been reported as receiving funding from a number of overseas evangelical Christian sources, although this is declining. Box Turtle Bulletin also reports that another Ugandan newspaper which has been publishing anti-gay articles, The Onion, carried a article yesterday quoting Ssempa saying that “since he waged war on bum drillers, funds slipping into his church project have drastically dwindled.”

Due to the exposure by a number of mostly American journalists of Ssempa's role in the promotion of the proposed 'kill the gays' Anti-Homosexuality Bill, over the last year several of his American evangelical backers have dropped their support. However he is still backed by amongst others Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada and Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma. As well as money, Warren Throckmorton reports that Canyon Ridge are helping Rev. Ssempa with his media statements.

Page 2 of the November 15 edition of "Rolling Stone"
Now, in an at first glance bizzare twist the July bombings of a Kampala rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant by the Somali Islamist group al-Shabab is being blamed on gays.

Warren Throckmorton reports:
The article has no author and cites unnamed sources, but claims that the July attacks in Kampala during the World Cup were plotted by “deadly homosexuals living abroad.” The article claims homosexuals are angry that the government won’t respect their rights. The article claims without awareness of the contradiction that the government sent troops to Somali to cover the real story.
The tale gets taller when the paper claims that homosexuals from the Middle East paid Somali terror group Al-Shabaab to bomb Kampala due to outrage over the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Finally, gays are blamed for funding the Lord’s Resistance Army who have committed atrocities in the North.
This fits a well-established narrative, both in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa, of homosexuality being an 'un-African' foreign import that only exists because of foreigners funding and promoting it. Box Turtle Bulletin also reports that another tabloid, The Onion, carried an article on Saturday an alleged "lesbian club" at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University which said that "these Lesbos are said to be financed by NGOs from the Netherlands, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, and are very loaded, so they can do anything they want anywhere."

Box Turtle Bulletin suggests that the latest round of anti-gay newspaper articles in Uganda, engaged in by much more widely circulated newspapers than Rolling Stone such as Red Pepper (though not the establishment papers such as The Monitor):
Raises the ugly possibility of a circulation war breaking out with LGBT Ugandans bearing the brunt.
We already noticed that Red Pepper’s Stanley Nduala, who had written many of that paper’s outing articles, drives a shiny Mercedes. Exposing gay people to mortal dangers and calling for their deaths is a proven pathway to great riches in Uganda for reporters and newspaper editors. And for Pentecostal preachers with ties to U.S. megachurches. That works just as well.
 And Throckmorton suggests a sinister reason for this stepped up anti-gay propaganda:
This is another disturbing development in a series of such happenings. I will have more to say about this Monday, but I spoke yesterday with the mover of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Hon. David Bahati, and he confirmed to me that he expects the bill to be considered during the lifetime of this parliamentary session. It seems likely that the Rolling Stone’s campaign is designed to increase pressure on the Museveni government, facing a surprisingly strong opposition heading into upcoming elections, to move the Anti-Homosexuality Bill toward passage (e.g., read the Rolling Stone’s editorial).
That Editorial is headed 'We'll only support anti-gay President'.
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