Uganda: Presidential candidate backs gay rights

Amama Mbabazi has become the first Ugandan presidential candidate to say he is opposed to homophobia. The former Prime Minister, who launched his campaign last month to be named president in 2016, shocked the public by saying on TV: ‘I am opposed to homophobia. While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, homosexuality is not something new. I have stated very clearly that there shouldn’t be any discrimination and it is not the biggest threat right now in the country.’ 

Gay rights activists have hailed this as one of the most significant moments of progress that Uganda has seen in years. In Uganda, there is an attitude that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ or that it is a Western import. By making clear it is not anything new, it could begin to be seen as natural. And by saying it is not a big threat, it should force the public to look at the serious issues that have been disguised by the current president Museveni’s unrelenting and public campaign against the LGBTI community.

His statement caused a deep divide among the Ugandan public, with some saying it was right that LGBTI people should not be persecuted while others said they could not support him because of this issue. While Sesange said he was concerned his message might be used against him in the election, he added: ‘We have more work to be done to support those allies who are against homophobia as well as helping to change people’s attitudes towards the LGBTI community.’  Read More