The hackers group Anonymous targeted Ugandan government websites this week as a way to protest the Ugandan government’s homophobia.
One hacker claimed the group had full control of Uganda’s president’s website at one point, and on the website of the prime minister, Anonymous put up fake posts including an official recognition of Pride week and a formal apology to the country’s LGBT population.
The post also included a photo from Uganda’s first-ever gay pride parade, held earlier this month, that was used without permission. But worse, putting the picture up may have seriously endangered some of the people who were at the parade, considering homosexuality is illegal and practically punishable by death in Uganda.
"While I support all protests against the anti-gay Ugandan Government, I fear this may cause a backlash to the LGBTI community of activists who so bravely showed their faces at Pride," Melanie Nathan wrote on her blog, oblogdeeoblogda. Nathan quoted one of the activists who had attended Uganda’s first pride events despite the risks and who wants the protest by Anonymous to end.
"My concern is the manner in which Anonymous claim to speak on behalf of Uganda LGBT activists with no consultation whatsoever," Val Kalende told Nathan. "Those well-meaning interventions can cause severe backlash for activists on the ground. Hacking government websites to ‘help’ victims of state-sponsored homophobia? Who does that? I think this extremist violent intervention MUST STOP."
Anonymous might think they’re doing great things for the cause here, but this kind of stuff is so risky. It’s one thing to call out a government for its wrongdoings in a public way, but this breach of security and privacy is a great way to further piss off Ugandan officials - and give them potential targets in their own country. I appreciate that people can recognize bad things are going on in Uganda, but this isn’t the way to deal with it.