Anti-LGBTQ disinformation surges online in East Africa

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05/31/2023

Anti-LGBTQ bills in Kenya and Uganda have unleashed an unprecedented wave of online disinformation targeting the community, with experts accusing political leaders of spreading falsehoods that put lives at risk. Social media platforms have been rife with false claims, including one alleging that Kenya’s president called for the killing of gay people and another that the United States ordered Uganda to legalise homosexuality. “Politicians (in Kenya and Uganda) have tapped into populist homophobia to keep themselves relevant to the masses,” said Nairobi-based political analyst and journalist Patrick Gathara. “An anti-LGBTQ stance translates into one being accepted by voters.” Homosexuality remains a taboo across much of Africa, where gay people are often forced to hide their sexual orientation out of fear for their safety. Opinion polls show that many East Africans believe that the lifestyle of LGBTQ people threatens traditional values.

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