Uganda’s homophobic foreign minister Sam Kutesa slated to be next U.N. General Assembly presidentAround the World, Online Only, Top Highlights Monday, June 2nd, 2014
In an announcement that has been roundly denounced by the United States, Uganda’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa has been voted in by acclamation to serve as the next United Nations General Assembly president, replacing outgoing – and widely respected – John W. Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said: “It would be disturbing to see the foreign minister of a country that passed an unjust, harsh and discriminatory law based on sexual orientation preside over the UN General Assembly,” reports The Guardian.
The position, which is largely symbolic, fell this year to Africa to fill. And because Kutesa was the only one seeking the position, he was voted in by acclamation, a form of election that does not use nor require a ballot. But it’s his positions on homosexuality – he once derided homosexuality as something that the majority of Africans “abhor” – that are eliciting the growing chorus of opposition. In a press release Democratic Sen. of New York, Charles Schumer, released a statement that read in part:
“The United Nations charter clearly promotes respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion — and Uganda, right now, clearly does not. That’s why the UN should review Mr. Kutesa’s participation in, and views on, such legislation,” noted BlackStarNews.com.
Feb. 14 of this year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, and with it some of the most punitive measures against the LGBT community in the world, causing worldwide condemnation. As a result, it has helped to create a climate of violence, fear and intimidation in this landlocked Eastern African nation of almost 36 million. Kutesa, who has served under Museveni for years, was a vocal proponent of the legislation.
But it isn’t just Kutesa’s views on homosexuality that have some questioning his fitness for the post. A series of corruption allegations, dating back to 1999, have dogged Kutesa. According to The Guardian report, “ In addition to the gay issue, Kutesa has also been criticized for persistent allegations of corruption. A lawyer by training, he is extremely wealthy and owns several luxury properties in Kampala. In 1999 he was censured by the Ugandan parliament for alleged misuse of his office. In 2009 he was named in a confidential U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks as one of three senior government ministers Museveni had failed to hold “accountable for corruption allegations”. Two years later he was forced to step down as minister after he and two other cabinet members were accused in parliament of accepting bribes from a foreign oil company – he was reinstated in 2012, but only after the investigation into the three was quashed by court order.”
In an effort to blunt any chance of Kutesa taking the role, Change.org has begun a petition asking Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke his U.S. Visa. Such a move would automatically bar him from being able to fill the role.
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