Uganda: Journalists Applaud Court Ruling on Gays

By Katongole Kiwanuka – Court in Kampala has ordered a news paper the ‘Rolling stone’ to compensate individuals whose names and faces were labelled as gays in one of its editions.

This followed the aggrieved individuals through their lawyers Henry Onoria, John Francis Onyango and Ankankwasa Edward to drag the paper to court over violating their right to privacy, the right to human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment.

On the 2nd/October/2010, the paper carried a story that was labelled as “Scandal” and under the headline “Hang them; they are after our kids!!!!! Pictures of Uganda’s 100 homos leak.” Some extracts of the story read: A 12 months clandestine investigation into the dark world of homosexuality and lesbianism in the country has led to the full exposure of the facial appearances of leading gays in this nation.

The paper alleged to have secured 100 pictures and more were coming in a four-part series. Delivering the judgment, the High Court judge Justice V.F. Musoke-Kibuuka on Monday issued an injunction restraining the paper from any further publications of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicant and homosexuals generally.

Justice Kibuuka found that the publication threatened the rights of the applicants to respect for human dignity and protection from inhuman treatment and the right to privacy of person and home.

He also ordered the news paper to pay 1,500,000 Uganda Shillings which is equivalent to USD750.00 to each victim as compensation as well as paying legal costs for the applicants. Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) reported that the enjoyment to freedom of press and freedom of expression come with a responsibility to protect and promote other people’s rights.

“Regulatory bodies should not be targeting to close down critical media houses or arresting and sacking journalists under duress but they should neutrally enforce the licensing regulations” HRNJ-Uganda Programmes Coordinator Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala said.
We applaud court for the judgment because it will bring back the declining state of responsible media.