Ugandan envoy shuns US meeting over gays Bill

Tuesday January 17 2012

By RISDEL KASASIRA

KAMPALA

The Ugandan Ambassador to the US, Mr Perezi Kamunanwire, on Friday abruptly withdrew as the keynote speaker at the Martin Luther King birthday event in Maryland over pressure that the proposed gays Bill violates the rights of homosexuals in Uganda.

The Washington Blade newspaper reported on Saturday that gays rights groups had contacted the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), a human rights organisation, to withdraw its invitation to Mr Kamunanwire as the guest speaker on King’s birthday commemoration in Maryland.

In response to pressure from gay rights activists, the UNCF president, Mr Michael Lomex, wrote to the Ugandan diplomat, telling him to explain the intentions of the Bill during the event that took place yesterday but Mr Kamunanwire wrote back, saying he would not attend, the Washing Blade reported.

The gays Bill tabled by Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, intends to criminalise homosexuality but human rights bodies have condemned it, saying it’s “an obnoxious” piece of legislation.

Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary James Mugume, was not available to clarify whether he was aware of the incident. Mr Bahati described the incident as “conservative neocolonialism which we must refuse”.

Mr Bahati was last year blocked from attending a meeting in the US for sponsoring the Bill which he says intends to protect children from being recruited into homosexuality. He said the pressure mounted on Ambassador Kamunanwire is a sign of intolerance by gay rights activists. “It confirms their imperialist nature of double standards of preaching tolerance and practicing intolerance,” he said.

rkasasira @ug.nationmedia.com

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