Uganda’s President Museveni has been awarded a global peace prize, taking the opportunity to repeat tired and baseless claims that Western countries are forcing homosexuality onto Africans.
Museveni last week attended the 2018 Global Peace Leadership Conference in Kamapla, which was hosted by the religious-based Global Peace Foundation.
Speaking at the opening, Museveni chuckled as he amused the audience when addressing the topic of LGBTI equality. Like some other leaders in Africa he too appeared to equate international pressure to protect the basic human rights of LGBTI Africans with ‘promoting homosexuality.’
“Africans here, we know a few people who are ‘rumoured’ to be homosexuals, even in history we had some few being rumoured, but you cannot stand up here and say ‘I am a homosexual.’ People will not like it,” he told the crowd with a smile.
“So whenever we talk to our partners in other parts of the world [we say], please that’s a private matter, you leave it. But no, they want to impose it on you… that I should stand up and say, ‘oh yeah, homosexuals, oh yeah.”
The audience responded with laughter, cheers and applause, leaving Museveni – who has been president of Uganda since 1986 – looking quite pleased with himself.
The reality is that homosexuality is not a “private matter” in Uganda, where the state has the right to prosecute people for their private consensual behaviour. Under colonial-era legislation, gay sex remains illegal, allowing the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life. LGBTI events are also regularly banned and raided by the authorities and activists are arrested and beaten.
In May, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, dismissed the still prevalent belief that the West is imposing homosexuality onto other countries. “That narrative is out there, but my line is that we’re not trying to impose a gay agenda. What we do oppose is discrimination,” he said.
In 2014, Museveni infamously signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law, which further penalised expressions of homosexuality in Uganda. The law was ultimately declared invalid by the Constitutional Court on procedural grounds.
Edwin Sesange, Director of the African Equality Foundation, told Mambaonline it was shameful that Museveni had been awarded a ‘peace prize’.
“This was a slap in the face of the Ugandan LGBTI community, to award a person who does not believe we need peace like any other groups of people in the country,” Sesange said.
“I do not know the criterion used by the Global Peace Foundation to award people, but I guess peace, justice, non-discrimination and fair treatment of LGBTI people is either on the bottom of the list or it doesn’t exist on their list at all,” he added.
The Global Peace Foundation says on its website that it “is an international non-sectarian, non-partisan, nonprofit organization, which promotes an innovative, values-based approach to peace building, guided by the vision of One Family under God.”
It also states that its principles include that “all people have intrinsic value, dignity, and fundamental rights,” something that Museveni does not agree applies to LGBTI people.