From conservative Africa to liberal Sweden, GLBT people are being increasingly targeted by media seeking to boost circulation
In Cameroon, newspapers outed 50 public figures. In Sweden, a website lists 129 gays and calls for their deaths.
In those countries, the old media newspapers and the new media the Internet are going after gays with a zeal that would make William Randolph Hearst blush.
Three Cameroon tabloids named more than 50 prominent politicians, musicians and athletes as being homosexual. These papers are mounting a genuine anti-gay crusade.
“Men making love to other men is filthy. It may be normal in the West, but in Africa, and Cameroon in particular, it is unthinkable,” the publisher of L’Anecdote, Jean Pierre Amougou Belinga, told Reuters.
“We could not remain silent. We had to ring the alarm bell. We don’t regret it and we have to do it again in spite of numerous death threats that me and my journalists have had.”
Oh, you brave man, Jean Pierre! A veritable Ernie Pyle, risking your life in the trenches of the culture wars.
It seems to me that the people most at risk of harm are those you saw fit to name whether they’re actually gay or not.
The public service these tabloids performed just happened to do their circulations a powerful lot of good. News sellers ran out of the papers and took to selling photocopies.
“It has been a long time since our circulation exceeded 5,000,” L’Anecdote editor Francois Bikoro told the Times of London. “Since we began dealing with homosexuality, it has gone up to more than 20,000.”
On behalf of homosexuals everywhere, we’re not the slightest bit happy to have helped.
Many of those named in this witchhunt have denied being gay. Some have threatened legal action. Small wonder: Homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon, punishable by up to five years in prison.
One of the figures named during the frenzy is Yannick Noah, a Frenchman with roots in Cameroon who is a former tennis star and now a singer.
I remember during his sporting heyday Noah was considered quite the playboy. Now, we gays know that one way to hide being gay is to flaunt a faux heterosexuality. If that’s what Noah was doing all those years, he went above and beyond the call.
As the Times quoted journalist Tansa Musa as saying, “There are going to be a lot of very surprised women, both in France and Cameroon.”
Undoubtedly there were many folks in Sweden surprised at the existence of a website called “The Sodomites.” According to 365Gay.com, the site lists 129 well-known gays, including actors, politicians and priests.
The site also offers up their home addresses, and calls for them to die.
Just the sort of use the inventor of the Internet had in mind, I’m sure.
The death threat comes in the form of Bible verses, notably Leviticus 20:13, which goes, “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
So much more poetic than a simple “Kill the queers!” And much, much more pragmatic.
Sweden has a strong law against promoting hate, but as long as the ugly sentiments are expressed via Biblical quotations, the country’s top prosecutor said he can’t do a thing.
When I studied journalism, the school didn’t offer a course on using the media for vile purposes.
I’m starting to think I should ask for my money back. Or I could fill in my educational gaps by studying the work of that late media giant named Joseph.
Read more of Leslie Robinson’s work at www.GeneralGayety.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.