The United Nations has come under fire recently in the wake of their announcement that the incoming President will be Sam Kutesa, a prominent Ugandan politican in favour of his country’s anti-homosexuality laws.
Mr Kutesa will become the President of the United Nations General Assembly, an influential but largely ceremonial role, from this coming Wednesday, June 11.
In his current role as Foreign Minister in Uganda, it fell on Kutesa to defend his government against worldwide criticism, when the Ugandan parliament passed and implemented harsh legislation against LGBT people.
In defence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s signing into law of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Kutesa stated that “the majority of Africans abhor” homosexuality, adding that the Ugandan government “shall not accept [its] promotion and exhibition, because we think that is wrong for our young people and it offends our culture”.
With a background of such intolerance on Mr Kutesa’s resumé, it isn’t very surprising to find that international human and LGBT rights organisations are not content with the announcement of Kutesa’s upcoming role at the UN.
Maria Burnett, an African affairs expert at Human Rights Watch told the Guardian‘s Ed Pilkington that “there are real concerns about Sam Kutesa’s commitment to the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including his defence of Uganda’s profoundly discriminatory anti-homosexuality law”.
Mr Kutesa will assume the role of President by acclamation, which means that no vote took place because he was the only candidate for the year-long position. Despite the circumstances, however, a petition has been posted online, calling on U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, as well as all UN members, to protest Kutesa’s inauguration.
“[President] Museveni knows rural voters who form the majority are conservative and not educated on issues of LGBT people,” petition author Milton Allimadi wrote on the change.org website. “By demonizing them, [President] Museveni hopes to translate fears into votes. In the process he does not care about the consequences on the safety and lives of LGBT community.”
At the time of writing this article, the petition had received over 9,250 signatures.