UK: Gay rights activists picket Ugandan President’s visit
Gay rights activists converged on Lancaster House in London yesterday to protest the visit by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. In February Museveni signed an anti-homosexuality bill into law that punishes any form of homosexuality (from kissing to same-sex sex) with a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment.
Museveni was in London to attend the UK-Uganda Business Forum at Lancaster House. Protestors from Justice for Gay Africans, STOPAIDS and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, picketed the building at which the UK Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds was also scheduled to meet and speak with MUseveni.
Protestors believe Simmonds appearance at the conference called into question the government’s position when it came to tackling homophobia in Uganda.
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation, said “Gay people are not the cause of Uganda’s problems. The government of Uganda should fight poverty and HIV, not gay people. It is hypocritical for the UK government to condemn homophobia while hosting President Museveni, who has backed one of the world’s most draconian anti-gay laws."
Tatchell described Museveni as a tyrant who presides over a corrupt regime. Saying, "he is guilty of widespread human rights violations, including the arrest of opposition leaders, torture and the suppression of free speech. The UK government should not be drumming up business to sustain his autocratic rule.”
Ben Simms, director of health activist group, STOPAIDS, said Uganda’s anti gay laws were putting people’s lives and health at risk, while new HIV infections are declining in many African countries in Uganda they are on the rise.
“It is shameful that the Foreign Office has given the Ugandan government the red carpet treatment, with ministers speaking on the same platform as Museveni,” said Simms. “It seems British business interests have trumped the human rights of Ugandans. We are left wondering what Hague’s strategy for tackling homophobia really is.”