Source: Spectrum Uganda
The humiliating and life-changing arrest of a leading Ugandan gay rights activist has been splashed out across the pages of the country’s tabloids.
Last week, Samuel K Ganafa, who works for a telecommunications company and also heads up two LGBT rights groups in Uganda, was arrested, along with three of his house guests.
The arrests were triggered by a man who claims to have been infected with HIV by Ganafa.
The three other men were arrested when police searched his home. Ganafa was also reportedly illegally forced to undergo an HIV test by the authorities.
All the men have been charged with committing “unnatural offences,” which could see them jailed for life if found guilty.
Ganafa’s arrest has now become tabloid fodder in Uganda, with the notoriously anti-gay Red Pepper newspaper proclaiming on its front page: “Telecoms boss named in sodomy scandal.”
The media scandal and upcoming trial could well see Ganafa losing his job, even if he is ultimately not found guilty.
On Saturday, Ganafa’s houseguests, Joseph Kayizi, Kasali Brian and Michael Katongole, were released on bail.
According to a report by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) on Monday, the men are set to appear in court on Wednesday November 20.
Ganafa’s case has been transferred to the Nabweru Magistrates’ Court. Due to bureaucratic delays he was not able to appear before the Chief Magistrate, who only comes into court on Mondays, for a bail hearing.
This means that, Ganafa, who is is the Executive Director of Spectrum Uganda Initiatives and Board Chairperson of SMUG, will now remain in the Luzira maximum security prison for another week until his bail application can be heard next week Monday.
Samuel Ganafa (Source: Facebook)
The Red Pepper tabloid has a history of sensationalistic stories that have helped fuel homophobic sentiment in Uganda.
Since 2006, it has dangerously outed gays and lesbian in its pages, often revealing private information that would easily allow them to be found.
In 2009 it named the country’s “top homosexuals”, not only showing photos of some of these men and women, but also including identifying features, places of employment, residences and boyfriends and girlfriends.
In 2010, in an article titled “City tycoons who bankroll Ugandan homos,” it published the names and personal details of people who it claimed were supporting gay rights groups and individuals.
There have been reports that some of the gays and lesbians featured in Red Pepper have been attacked and harassed and at least one, activist David Kato, went on to be murdered in January 2011.
This week, Bernard Randall, a British retiree living in Uganda, and his house guest appeared in a Ugandan court in Entebbe on charges of of “trafficking obscene publications” and “committing “acts of gross indecency”.
The arrests were as a result of a Red Pepper report on the British man’s private sex video which was stolen from his home.