U.K. Activists Revoke Ugandan Speaker Invitation Over Anti-LGBT Law

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U.K. Activists Revoke Ugandan Speaker Invitation

Campaign Against Ugandan Speaker’s Invitation

Human rights advocates from both within and outside Uganda have launched a campaign calling on the United Kingdom’s government to retract an invitation extended to Anita Among, the Speaker of the Uganda Parliament. They are protesting her scheduled participation in the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth, set to take place next month in London. Among is notably recognized for her pivotal role in crafting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), which imposes severe penalties for gay relationships, including life imprisonment and the death penalty for repeat offenses.

Among’s Defense of the AHA

Among has openly declared her intention to use the occasion to advocate for the AHA.

Commonwealth Day Celebrations

The invitation from U.K. Parliament Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to Among aims to have her represent Uganda—a country with historical ties to Britain as a former protectorate—during the celebration. The event, marking Commonwealth Day on March 11, 2024, will initiate a week of global festivities, featuring educational assemblies, flag hoisting, and cultural events. The Commonwealth, primarily composed of countries once under British rule, counts 31 of its 56 member states as having laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Global Petition for Action

An online petition, gaining traction with over 2,000 signatures worldwide, demands not only the cancellation of Among’s invitation but also calls for her to be barred from entering the U.K., citing her staunchly anti-LGBTQI+ stance.

The Petition’s Message

The petition asserts :

“UK: RESCIND INVITE TO UGANDAN ANTI-LGBT+ POLITICIAN

Dear Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP,

We, the undersigned, urge you to rescind the invitation extended to Ugandan Parliament Speaker Anita Among for the upcoming Commonwealth anniversary celebrations. Her role in championing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act and publicly stated intention to defend it at this critical Commonwealth celebration contradicts the values of human rights and dignity that the United Kingdom stands for.

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Granting her this opportunity would send a message of tacit support for the Act and further endanger the lives and well-being of LGBT+ individuals in Uganda. Additionally, it would undermine progress made on LGBT+ rights in some parts of the Commonwealth, sending the wrong signal at a time when we are at risk of a global backlash on LGBT+ rights. We believe the UK should lead by example in supporting inclusivity and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We respectfully request that you reconsider the invitation to ensure that the Commonwealth anniversary remains a symbol of unity and diversity, not division, hate and discrimination.”

Support and Advocacy Against the Invitation

Prominent supporters of the petition include African Rainbow Family, All Out, Human Dignity Trust, Kaleidoscope International Trust, Peter Tatchell Foundation, ReportOUT, Stonewall, STOPAIDS, and The Commonwealth Equality Network. Upon endorsing the Anti-LGBT+ bill, Among emphasized Uganda’s commitment to its cultural values, resisting influence from the West.

Diplomatic Efforts and Visa Revocation

Peter Tatchell, an advocate for LGBT+ rights, met with Lindsay Hoyle on February 7, advocating for a ban on Among’s entry into the U.K. While Hoyle agreed to communicate these concerns to the U.K. Home Secretary James Cleverly, the outcome remains uncertain. Meanwhile, the United States has reportedly already revoked Among’s visa, following the enactment of the AHA by President Yoweri Museveni.

Reactions and Consequences

Dorothy Awori, a human rights attorney, expressed little surprise at the growing international backlash against Among, attributing it to the consequences of her involvement in the controversial law. Reports from the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum in Uganda have highlighted a surge in violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals since the AHA’s introduction.

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U.K. Government’s Stance

The U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, through Andrew Mitchell, expressed dismay at Uganda’s decision to pass the discriminatory legislation, underscoring the U.K.’s stance against such measures.

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