Uganda’s ambassador to the United States has insisted that the dreaded Anti-Homosexuality Bill will not be reconsidered by his country’s parliament.
Ambassador Perezi K. Kamunanwire made the statement in an angry letter withdrawing as keynote speaker from a recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, reports the Washington Blade.
Kamunanwire had been invited to the event but pulled out after United Negro College Fund president and CEO, Michael L. Lomax, raised the issue of Uganda’s treatment of gays and lesbians in a letter and subsequent phone call.
“Following a brief telephone conversation with Dr. Lomax in which I expressed concern that changing the topic would distract from our shared commitment to honour Dr. King’s legacy and advance the discussion of education equality, it was clear from his discourteous and insulting tone that I was no longer welcome,” Kamunanwire said in letter to the chairman of the board of directors of the United Negro College Fund, William F. Stasior.
He claimed in the letter that “it is important to note that Uganda does not have such policies [criminalising sexual orientation], although he acknowledged “outdated anti-sodomy laws in the Ugandan penal code” which “were inherited from our British colonisers”.
Kamunanwire also noted that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been introduced into parliament by one MP and had not been debated or passed.
“[A]nd contrary to popular belief, it is not being reconsidered. This has been explained to the U.S. government, Department of State, and several other concerned parties to their satisfaction,” he said.
Despite Kamunanwire’s statement, the Ugandan government has never publicly stated its position on the bill nor said that it would reject it.
As recently as October, there have been reports that the Ugandan Parliament, including Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, remains intent on debating and putting the bill up for vote.
Originally introduced in October 2009, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill allows for the death penalty in cases of “aggravated homosexuality” and includes various criminal penalties for anyone who fails to turn over gay people to the police or anyone who “promotes” homosexuality.
An international petition opposing the bill was signed by almost two million people and it has been condemned by numerous governments around the world.
Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and those found guilty of gay sex can be sentenced to life imprisonment.