An election without a vote is sure to raise some eyebrows, even though it isn’t an uncommon occurrence; even more eyebrows arch when that elected official comes from a government that demonizes homosexuality. Oh, and did I mention he’s the new head honcho at the United Nations?
Uganda’s Foreign Minister, Sam Kutesa, has been elected to the presidency of the UN General Assembly, and not everyone is pleased with his country’s aggressive policy of hunting down and detaining homosexuals.
Some may be surprised by his election, as it brings implications to how he’ll address issues regarding sexuality. He was elected due to the fact that 37 of the 50 African nations have legislation against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people (LGBT’s). On a 2013 list of the 81 countries that have outlawed homosexuality, Uganda is ranked 35th in terms of its law intensity against LGBT’s. Kutesa will take office on September 14.
The General Assembly presidential position is one that holds the power to make active change. Kutesa will chair all important sessions and will have a bully pulpit at his disposal. He can thereby push his country’s objectives on a far wider scale.
In his speech, he predictably sidestepped his ideas on homosexuality by claiming he’d protect women’s rights and work to eliminate poverty and solve environmental issues. US Ambassador Samantha Power had this to share in regards to the status of homosexuality worldwide:
“….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.”
When addressed by the press, Kutesa claimed that his views on homosexuality shouldn’t have been an issue because “it is the law,” and that he had no problem with LGBT’s, so long “as they respect the privacy.”
Two senators have criticized Kutesa in the past, and a petition with 9,000 signatures urging Senator John Kerry and UN members to block him has obviously failed. Kutesa has a tattered political past, as he was censored in 1999 for corruption and implicated in a 2007 scandal involving more than $150M in missing public funds. The case was dismissed, but in 2011, he was asked to step down from his position for taking bribes from Tullow Oil, a British oil company. Tullow Oil vehemently denied the allegations, but Kutesa subsequently resigned from his position as Uganda’s Foreign Minister.
Photo: (Wikimedia Commons)