Tags: Uganda | homosexuals | United Nations

Uganda Wins Key U.N. Post Despite Anti-Gay Law

Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 05:50 PM

Uganda's Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa was elected president of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday despite concerns among human rights advocates, Western governments and U.N. officials about his country's recently adopted anti-gay legislation.

After his election by acclamation without a vote in the 193-nation General Assembly, Kutesa pledged to promote gender equality and women's rights and to continue a United Nations drive to eradicate poverty and deal with climate issues. He did not mention gay rights.

Kutesa had received the unanimous support of delegations in the African Group, the U.N. caucus of African nations at the world body. It was Africa's turn to supply a nominee for the post, a largely ceremonial but high-profile position that involves presiding over meetings of the General Assembly.

Kutesa's home country has been heavily criticized in recent months by the United Nations, Western nations and civil rights groups for its anti-gay legislation.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has previously called on Uganda to repeal a law imposing harsh penalties for homosexuality, warning it could fuel prejudice.

After his election, Kutesa was asked by reporters about his position on gays. He suggested that they should keep their sexual preferences private.

"Well, as long as they respect the privacy ... I have no problem with it at all," he said, adding about his own support for the country's controversial legislation: "Me supporting it or not supporting it is of no consequence. It is a law."

"I have never been found corrupt. I am not homophobic," he added.

Philippe Bolopion of the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch, said the choice of Kutesa was questionable.

"Sam Kutesa's defense of Uganda's profoundly discriminatory anti-homosexuality law raises serious concerns about his commitment to the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and makes him a questionable choice by U.N. member states to lead the U.N. General Assembly," he said.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said that since "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are endangered for who they are, including by discriminatory laws, the work of the United Nations to advance equality, justice, and dignity for all could not be more urgent."

 

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Uganda's Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa was elected president of the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday despite concerns among human rights advocates, Western governments and U.N. officials about his country's recently adopted anti-gay legislation.
Uganda, homosexuals, United Nations
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2014-50-11
Wednesday, 11 Jun 2014 05:50 PM
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