HRC Blog

Anti-LGBT Ugandan Lawmaker Becomes New UN General Assembly President

Post submitted by Yushuang Sun, HRC Global Engagement Intern

Sam Kutesa, the Foreign Minister of Uganda, begins his tenure this week as president of the United Nations General Assembly, just four months after that country enacted the widely denounced Anti-Homosexuality Act.

The legislation was ratified by the Ugandan parliament last December and signed into force by President Yoweri Museveni in February. The law authorizes life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”; a seven-year sentence on “aiding and abetting” homosexuality; and five years in prison for “promotion of homosexuality”.

Kutesa, as the right-hand of President Museveni in promoting the law, charged that homosexuality was connected to Western imperialism and defended the law in the face of international condemnation. He claimed that a “majority of the Africans abhor” the practice of homosexuality and “we shall not accept promotion and exhibition, because we think that is wrong for our young people and it offends out culture.”

Since the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in Uganda, the condition for LGBT individuals has deteriorated. According to a report released by the advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the recorded incidents of violence and torture against LGBT community have increased tenfold. In May, Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, his trans partner, had been arrested under the old colonial-era anti-sodomy law and were tried under the new anti-LGBT law. Many LGBT Ugandans have fled Uganda and are seeking asylum in neighboring Kenya and Rwanda.

Just few hours after President Museveni signed the law, UN Secretary General had called on Uganda to repeal the law. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also warned that the act could encourage harassment and violence against LGBT community.

HRC believes that Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa’s upcoming tenure as the UN General Assembly President will leave a black mark on the United Nations’ commitment to protect the human rights of all individuals.  It’s deeply disturbing that a man who calls LGBT people “disgusting” and played such a critical role in the promotion and passage of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act is assuming this post.

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