Have Two Gay Men Been Killed In Uganda This Month? Not Yet.

UPDATE: Uganda’s Constitutional Court annulled the anti-gay law on Friday August 1, 2014 on grounds that it was passed by MPs without the requisite quorum and was therefore illegal. 

I’m aware of the homophobic attitudes in Uganda and from social media comments, many people seem to have the resolve to kill a gay person if they had a chance. But I’m not falling for this “graphic” video titled ‘Another Gay Man Killed In Uganda – Kampala‘.

At 0.36, the truth seems to flash by. Fast and almost inaudible but to keen ears, there seems to be a difference in the sound of the man seemingly narrating and the extra voices. As the clip ends, it almost seems like the man at the receiving end is one of the many who fall prey to mob justice, a very Ugandan thing, sadly. The narrator seems to talk over the man who uses Luganda to say the victim was caught trying to enter somewhere. That contradicts somehow with the caption on the video:

“Ssekasi John aged 29 was a business man who always hosted male friends at his home in Kasangati. On Sunday as he was at Kalerwe Market stage, one of the boda boda riders refused to ride him home simply because he one of the riders on the same stage had informed him that he (Ssekasi John) was a gay who at one time wanted to have annual [sic] sex with him….Its at that point that other riders started attacking him and hence ended up using mob justice onto him…..Its now official that being a gay or lesbian leads you to life imprisonment in Uganda.”

This video comes days after a picture of a charred body made rounds on a number of beyond-Uganda websites. Guess that explains the use of the word “another” in the headline on the video above. The picture’s caption: “Man burned alive for being gay in Uganda as crowd looks on“. The picture might have been taken months or years ago most probably somewhere in West Africa.

So, what could be the story behind these questionable images?

I have listened to some journalists (people who are expected by the rules of the game to be as unbiased as possible) say they wouldn’t cover an incident of violence or mob justice towards a homosexual! Some would therefore argue, the incidents captured in that picture and the one in the video did happen [to gay people in Uganda] but the media shunned them. Maybe. Maybe not.

With no evidence to blame journalists for shunning incidents of brutality towards homosexuals, these are the other suspect scenarios.

1) The images are the work of some people [probably activists] who feel a charred body or a bleeding man being hit with a huge stick will help pass on the message of the hate this country rides on. That anyone would see this as an exploitable option is beyond me.

or

2) The images are the work of people out to make those part of the call for equality be better liars than they’ve been portrayed already. And if this is surely the case, it is working. The activists are being blamed for thinking shallow and being desperate to pass on a message. Even if that means voicing over a clip or sharing an unverified picture online and claiming, this is what is happening in Uganda.

Recently passed by Parliament, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill [even before it becomes law] has awakened tonnes of irony-infested bigotry much of which is hinged on how “unAfrican” being gay is. That is if the comment is not God-Hates-Homosexuality religious.

One doesn’t need a video or pictures to know what some people’s attitudes towards homosexuals are. Just look at the comments on the ensuing news stories. People that say they are religious calling for the killing of gay men. It is intriguing how creative a human mind can get when it allows savagery to bloom. One comment on a newspaper Facebook page wanted government to provide the public with acid to be used on anyone suspected or known to be gay! The picture and the video seem to fall within the level of hatred in that comment [respondent quoted a scripture at the end] but even such doesn’t justify the use of unsubstantiated images.

People that consider themselves gay activists need to come out and denounce these images because clearly, they are a threat to what they stand for. The international community in its efforts to rein in also needs to be aware of the effects random collective conclusions might bring [or are already bringing] to the campaign for equality. Proving a fact based on lies is buzz generating but soon, the case is watered down.

To people that consider themselves good journalists, now more than ever, step out and tell the balanced story. Beware of the viral pictures. Verify the facts. Even when they turn out to collide with your views on the issue of homosexuality. If a man is stoned to death and the perpetrators claim it was because he was gay, the good journalists expose the injustice. They don’t join the clapping crowd. I am planning on visiting Kalerwe Market soon to ask about a Sunday incident in which a man was beaten . It will be a surprise if my doubts turn out false but I am open to that, too.

My earlier take on this widely criticised, widely welcomed, headline-making bill stands; the bill would be fantastic if it made it impossible or more realistically, very hard for instances where adult men and women take advantage of minors from happening. But from the look of things, there’s lots of attention towards what people that qualify to be adults do. In private. Sounds like an ambitious law. I wish it success. It even goes ahead and proposes punishments for those who know homosexuals but fail to report them! I wonder if Ugandan Prison Break fans will have to report Wentworth Miller or else they face time in jail.

Follow @SongaStone

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