Main | Saturday, October 04, 2014

UGANDA: President Backs Off Anti-Gay Laws, Fears Trade Boycott By West

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday said that his nation risks a trade boycott by western corporations if the anti-gays laws struck down earlier this year on a technicality were to be reinstated.
In a commentary on Friday in the state-run New Vision daily, Museveni said he was not worried by the aid cuts that followed the initial law, but warned of a trade boycott by companies in the West. He said re-issuing the anti-gay law would likely antagonize consumers in the West, risking access to a rich export market. "To carelessly and needlessly open unnecessary wars with useful customers is irresponsible to say the least," he wrote. Homosexuality remains taboo in Uganda and many socially conservative African societies where some religious groups have branded it a corrupting Western import. The original passage of the anti-gay law was celebrated with a rally in the city center against homosexuals, which Museveni attended and where he was thanked for signing the bill by religious leaders from various denominations. Donors, who finance about 20 percent of Uganda's annual budget, lauded its annulment, and some have resumed lending. The U.S. described the court's decision as "an important step in the right direction for human rights" in Uganda.
Some insiders suspect that Museveni orchestrated the overturn of the anti-gay legislation as the court's ruling came just days before a Washington DC summit of African nations.

RELATED: Two weeks ago a Four Seasons hotel in Irving, Texas reportedly turned away Museveni and his wife. A spokesman for the hotel said that the Four Seasons simply could not accommodate them on short notice, but the incident was reported as a "snubbing" in the African press. Museveni claimed, "My people made hotel bookings for me, but homosexuals blocked it."

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