Uganda: LGBTI activists sue the Rolling Stone tabloid. Uganda High Court issue an interim order to cease publication

10 Nov, 2010 | Press Releases

On 1 November 2010, the Ugandan tabloid “Rolling Stone” published an article entitled “Men of Shame Part II” with the names and pictures of 10 alleged gay men. The article follows the infamous article published on 2 October 2010, which asked the general public to “Hang the Homes” in Uganda. The paper’s first article resulted in direct attacks on at least 8 people whose names and pictures were published in it, including a woman who was forced to flee her home after neighbours pelted it with stones.

Following a civil suit filed against the tabloid by a coalition of Uganda civil society organisations, the High Court of Uganda issued, on 1 November 2010, an interim order to cease any further publications by “Rolling Stone” that identify by name or picture or any relevant implication of the person perceived by the respondents as to be gay, lesbian or homosexual in general, pending a full hearing, scheduled for 23 November 2010.

On 13 October 2010, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) expressed its grave concerns about this ongoing homophobic media campaign as well as widespread human rights violations faced by LGBTI people in Uganda, since an Anti Homosexuality Bill was submitted to the Parliament of Uganda one year ago. If adopted, that legislation would introduce life sentences or even the death penalty for homosexual acts.

The Ugandan delegation headed by Ms Rukia Isanga Nakadama, Minister of State for Gender and Cultural Affairs, attempted to reject any responsibility on the part of the Government of Uganda, as the Bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill and had not been formally sponsored by members of the Government. Similarly, Uganda denied any responsibility for the publication by the Ugandan newspaper “Rolling Stone”, claiming that it was an issue of freedom of expression and that the police would be responsible for dealing with any consequences that may arise. Nevertheless, the United Nations Committee found these claims not convincing, stating that this was ‘a very unacceptable situation and a case of incitement to violence’.

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ), Certi Diritti, the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPT) and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) welcome the decision by the High Court of Uganda to issue an interim order to cease further publication by “Rolling Stone” tabloid, pending a full hearing on 23 November 2010, and calls on the High Court to uphold the rule of law and reaffirm the clear line between freedom of expression and to incitement to hate crimes.

NPWJ, Certi Diritti, the NRPTI and SMUG call on the Government of Uganda to take all appropriate measures to ensure the full respect of fundamental human rights and adequate protection from violence for people suffering discrimination based on sexual orientation. This is particularly urgent for those who have decided not to be silent in front of this new episode of harassment and discrimination and have taken civil action in the courts against the “Rolling Stone” tabloid. These human rights defenders should be considered champions of the rule of law, who have taken this decision at great personal risk but for the benefit of all Ugandan citizens.

For further information, please contact Elio Polizzotto (NPWJ), email:, phone: +32 2 548 39 21 and Advocacy Litigation Officer (SMUG) phone: + 256 773104971.