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Kill Bill!: Ugandan human rights organizations' attempts to influence the media's coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Informatics and Media, Media and Communication Studies.
2011 (English)In: Culture, Health and Sexuality, ISSN 1369-1058, E-ISSN 1464-5351, Vol. 13, no 8, 917-931 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of October 2009 caused an international outcry and sparked intense debate in the local and international media. Particularly contentious was its proposal to impose the death penalty for acts of ‘aggravated homosexuality’. Through a quantitative content analysis of 176 items from two main daily newspapers, the government-owned New Vision and the privately-owned Daily Monitor, over the period October 2009–June 2010, combined with qualitative interviews with human rights defenders in Uganda, this study explores attempts made by local human rights advocates to influence the media's coverage of the Bill and the extent to which these attempts were successful. The study finds that while there are significant differences between the frequency of reporting on the Bill in the two newspapers, both papers devoted little editorial space to the public health and human rights concerns put forward by local human rights organizations. Despite Uganda's recent and often lauded history of openly addressing HIV/AIDS, human right organizations' attempts to highlight the Bill's potentially adverse effects on the country's ability to tackle the epidemic effectively were only partially successful and, interestingly, awarded much less attention than the potential human rights implications of the proposed change in legislation.

Abstract [fr]

Le projet de loi contre l'homosexualité d'octobre 2009 en Ouganda a provoqué un tollé international et déclenché un vif débat dans les médias locaux et internationaux. Particulièrement controversée, a été la proposition d'imposer la peine de mort pour punir les actes «d'homosexualité aggravée». Grâce à une analyse de contenu de 176 articles extraits des deux quotidiens principaux – le New Vision qui appartient au gouvernement; le Daily Monitor qui appartient à un groupe privé – et publiés entre octobre 2009 et juin 2010, ainsi que des entretiens qualitatifs avec des défenseurs des droits humains en Ouganda, cette étude explore les activités des militants des droits humains en Ouganda qui avaient pour but d'influencer le traitement de ce sujet par les médias, et dans quelle mesure ces activités ont été fructueuses. L'étude révèle qu'alors qu'il existe des différences significatives en termes de fréquence du traitement du sujet par les deux journaux, ceux-ci ont consacré peu d'espace éditorial aux questions relatives à la santé publique et aux droits humains mises en avant par les organisations des droits humains locales. En dépit de l'histoire récente et souvent applaudie de l'ouverture avec laquelle l'Ouganda a abordé la question du VIH/Sida, les activités des organisations des droits humains, mettant en avant les potentiels effets néfastes du projet de loi sur la capacité du pays à s'attaquer efficacement à l'épidémie, n'ont réussi que partiellement et, curieusement, ont beaucoup moins suscité l'intérêt que les implications en matière de droits humains du projet de loi proposé.

Abstract [es]

El proyecto de ley contra la homosexualidad de octubre de 2009 en Uganda ha causado una repulsa internacional y ha generado un intenso debate en los medios de comunicación locales e internacionales. Especialmente controvertida fue la propuesta de imponer la pena de muerte por actos de ‘homosexualidad agravada’. Mediante un análisis cuantitativo de contenido con 176 reportajes de dos principales diarios, el New Vision, de propiedad estatal, y el Daily Monitor, de propiedad privada, durante el periodo de octubre de 2009 a junio de 2010, combinado con entrevistas cualitativas con defensores de derechos humanos en Uganda, en este estudio analizamos los esfuerzos realizados por defensores locales de los derechos humanos para influir en el debate en los medios de comunicación sobre el proyecto de ley y hasta qué punto tuvieron éxito estos esfuerzos. En el estudio se observa que si bien existen importantes diferencias en cuanto a la frecuencia de informar sobre el proyecto de ley en los dos periódicos, ambos diarios dedicaban poco espacio editorial a las preocupaciones relativas a la salud pública y los derechos humanos presentadas por las organizaciones locales de derechos humanos. Pese a la reciente historia de Uganda, que muchas veces ha sido alabada por su modo de abordar abiertamente el problema del VIH/sida, los esfuerzos de las organizaciones de derechos humanos para destacar los efectos potencialmente negativos del proyecto de ley en la capacidad del país para luchar con eficacia contra la epidemia tuvieron solamente un éxito parcial, y curiosamente se prestó mucha menos atención a estos efectos del proyecto de ley que a las posibles repercusiones para los derechos humanos.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 13, no 8, 917-931 p.
Keyword [en]
Uganda, homosexuality, agenda setting, HIV/AIDS, mass media
National Category
Media and Communications
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-156823DOI: 10.1080/13691058.2011.589080ISI: 000299880200005PubMedID: 21714747OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-156823DiVA: diva2:433403
Available from: 2011-08-09 Created: 2011-08-09 Last updated: 2017-12-08Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Perilous Silences and Counterproductive Narratives Pertaining to HIV/AIDS in the Ugandan, Lesotho and Namibian Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perilous Silences and Counterproductive Narratives Pertaining to HIV/AIDS in the Ugandan, Lesotho and Namibian Press
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Research on Western mainstream media’s framing of HIV/AIDS in the 1980’s, showed that media narratives influenced audiences’ understanding of the epidemic, as well as society’s responses. Subsequently, by analyzing a society’s mass media and its framing of HIV/AIDS, it is possible to explore what understandings are given preferential treatment in that society, as well as explore what social change those narratives indirectly or directly facilitate. Such an analysis is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa, the continent most affected by HIV/AIDS and which has struggled to reverse the course of the epidemic. This dissertation has in five separate articles, not only identified and described media narratives on HIV/AIDS and the closely related topic of same-sex sexuality in three countries hard-hit by the epidemic –Lesotho, Namibia and Uganda – but also discussed the potential effects of persistent silences, as well as narratives that are counterproductive to the countries’ ability to respond to their epidemics. The research uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative approaches: content analysis of independent and government-controlled print media products, semi-structured interviews with media practitioners and representatives from organizations that seek to influence the media agenda, as well as analysis of legislative and policy documents.

The articles discuss a range of persistent silences and counterproductive narratives on HIV/AIDS in the three countries. Overall, the media is found to largely fail in providing its readers with narratives that contain many of the particular factors – economic, social, cultural, biological, as well as those related to stigma and discrimination –that fuel their epidemics. The research however also finds differences between the countries and the types of media. In particular privately-owned media is found to play important role in terms of acknowledging the existence of same-sex sexuality as well as relevance in relation to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in Namibian and Ugandan.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2011. 87 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Social Sciences, ISSN 1652-9030 ; 71
Keyword
HIV/AIDS, mass media, homosexuality, Africa
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies; International Health
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-157234 (URN)978-91-554-8134-6 (ISBN)
External cooperation:
Public defence
2011-09-29, H2, Ekonomikum, Kyrkogårdsg 10, Uppsala, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-08 Created: 2011-08-22 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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