Feb 25, 2011

UGANDAS MARGINALIZED COMMUNITY: ¨...many people have taken advantage of our oppression to satisfy their political, economic, and social greed and bigotry.¨

Kasha Jacqueline:  ¨“Enough is enough! These guys can’t get away with this!”
 In January a judge ruled in favour of a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals exposed in the Rolling Stone tabloid stating that all Ugandans, regardless of their sexual orientation, have a right to privacy and dignity.

Kasha Jacqueline, one of the plaintiffs, recounts her story in the Kampala Dispatch. This article went to press as news broke about plaintiff David Kato's murder.

On the 4th of October, I woke up as usual, with my niece sleeping near me. She was put in my bed every morning so that when I awoke, the first thing I see is her smiling face. I was flying to Geneva that evening for a Human Rights conference where one of the topics of discussion would be Uganda’s proposed anti-homosexuality bill. Everything seemed normal about that morning, until I checked my e-mail. In addition to the normal e-mails, I found one from a man named Josh Kron, a reporter from the New York Times, in New York. The subject was: “Is it true?”

The proud publisher/pusher of Ugandas ¨Rolling Stone¨ (not affiliated with U.S. Publication)
The body of the e-mail consisted of a few simple questions asking whether or not a Ugandan tabloid called The Rolling Stone had written about me, naming me as a lesbian. I had never even heard of the The Rolling Stone and wrote him back to tell him I wasn’t aware of ever having spoken with such a publication. Shortly afterwards, Frank Mugisha, a friend of mine, who had also been listed by the tabloid as a gay Ugandan, sent me an e-mail with a scanned copy of the tabloid newspaper. There it was: my picture, my name, and the headline: “100 PICTURES OF UGANDA’S TOP HOMOS.” Beneath the headline were the words, “Hang Them!”...

When I got a full copy of the paper that night, I passed it around, and began to shout, “Enough is enough! These guys can’t get away with this!” But for the next two weeks, I felt too scared to do anything. I was afraid that if I spoke up, someone would hurt me. The following week, Rolling Stone printed more photos, and I knew that if I didn’t do something to stop them, eventually, someone would get hurt. All the news I got from home was terrible. People who had their photo published had been attacked, had rocks thrown at them, and some had to leave their homes. They were too afraid to even file police reports. I decided I had to stand up for them. I was a known human rights defender, I could risk my name. I contacted many people around the world who supported me and pledged to help me throughout the whole process of suing the Rolling Stone.

I talked to my colleagues David Kato and Pepe Onziema, and learned that they were also planning to sue, so we teamed up to lodge a case against The Rolling Stone.

We sued them on grounds that should be important to all Ugandans, whether gay or straight: Our right to privacy and the safety we all have against incitements to violence. Let me be clear: I have never at any one time in my affidavit denied my sexual orientation. Our issue concerned the rights that Ugandans should have to be protected from the incitement of violence and violation of our privacy. No one should ever wake up and see a call for violence and his home address published in a newspaper...

This verdict has shown that indeed, justice is possible in this world and more so in this country. Coming from a marginalized community, many people have taken advantage of our oppression to satisfy their political, economic, and social greed and bigotry. We are victims of oppression in so many ways. And for being just who we are, many have turned us into targets of oppression. But we refuse to be silent. The stories of people fighting against injustice have always been about a minority, because social justice struggles are fought by a minority for a majority.

The court verdict reminded us all that Uganda is no place for hatred and impunity. Irresponsible journalism has no place in this country. The Rolling Stone tabloid and its editors may not have anticipated that they would be victims of their own actions but we would never wish for or call for them to be “hanged.” A media that is based on untruthfulness is an enemy of the nation. Let this be the beginning of responsible journalism for justice and equality. read it all in the Kampala Dispatch, HERE

·  Thanks to Kasha Jacqueline,  Uganda
·  Thanks to Kampala Dispatch
·  Thanks to African Activist,  HERE
·  Thanks to Amplifying Africa's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Voices

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