Despite an outcry from the world’s LGBT community, African nations have unanimously chosen to make Uganda’s anti-gay Foreign Minister the new President of the UN General Assembly.
Sam Kutesa, 65, was elected to the post on Wednesday in New York. The year-long largely ceremonial position is chosen on a regional rotation basis and this time it was Africa’s choice.
A petition signed by 9,000 people and calls from activists around the world opposing Kutesa’s election were shamefully ignored by the continent’s leaders.
In his acceptance speech, Kutesa declared that his election is “not only a sign of your collective trust and confidence in me, personally, but also recognition of the contribution made by my country, Uganda.
“I would like to thank, in a special way, my region, Africa, for endorsing my candidature and for the unwavering support I have received,” he added.
Kutesa further said: “Our ultimate objective should be to formulate a transformative agenda that supports global solutions, guides national development efforts, and empowers people to improve their livelihoods and determine their own future.”
It is likely however that he excludes gays and lesbians when it comes to the principal of people determining their own future.
Kutesa, who has also been accused of corruption, represents his country’s repressive administration, led by President Museveni, which earlier this year enacted the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act.
He has in the past defended the law internationally, stating that “the majority of Africans abhor this practice [homosexuality]” and that “we shall not accept [its] promotion and exhibition, because we think that is wrong for our young people and it offends our culture.”
After his election, Kutesa was asked by US journalists at a press conference about his views on homosexuality, to which he replied: “Well, as long as they respect the privacy, their right to privacy, I have no problem with it.”
He also addressed criticism of his suitability for the UN post by stating: “I have had a conspiracy by members of the opposition in our country both inside and outside who have tried their best to malign my name, I have never been found corrupt, I’m not homophobic and I believe that I am a suitable person to lead this organisation for the next session.”
Kutesa seems to believe that the view that gays and lesbians should remain hidden behind closed doors in shame and fear is not an indication of being homophobic.
Kutesa’s selection once again confirms that the basic human rights of LGBT people are of little significance or concern to Africa’s leaders, who choose regional unity and politicking above all else.