The Gay and Lesbian International Sport Association (GLISA) announced it is distraught to learn of the vote in favor of a law against homosexuality by the Ugandan Parliament.
The law foresees a penalty of life imprisonment for homosexual acts. Its introduction has been the subject of much discussion both in Uganda and the rest of the world.
At the LGBT Human Rights conference of worldOutgames III, held this July/August in Antwerp, Belgium, the opening speaker was Alice N’Kom, famous human rights lawyer and “straight ally” activist from Cameroon. She spoke of progress in her country and her optimistic, uplifting speech stands in stark contrast to today’s news from elsewhere on the African continent.
Bernard Landry, former Prime Minister of Quebec, who was another keynote speaker at the conference, said “Such a denial of rights is not deserving of a state run by the rule of law. It is just a few days since the death of Nelson Mandela, the first African leader to reject all forms of sexual orientation discrimination, that we now see this extreme injustice in Uganda. I call on the Canadian Foreign Minister to ask Uganda, as a member of the Commonwealth, to reconsider this law urgently.
Bart De Wever, Mayor of Antwerp expressed his disappointment and said “As the host for the 2013worldOutGames, I am staggered to learn that Uganda has decided to criminalize homosexuality. To me, the idea of sending people to jail for life, just because of their sexual identity, is obscene.”
Philip Heylen, vice-mayor of Antwerp, said “After the fantastic conference we had here this summer we felt that things were moving in the right direction in Africa at last. The world has been focusing on LGBT rights in Russia recently due to the Olympics, but this atrocious news from Uganda shows us, regrettably, that we cannot afford to be complacent and must all continue to fight for human rights everywhere in the world,” he said. “LGBT Rights are Human Rights.”
Chairman of the Board of worldOutgames III Bart Abeel said how distressing it was to hear the news from Uganda. “After all the hard work of the delegates, staff and volunteers and everyone else involved in the conference, this news is awful. Our thoughts are with all LGBT people in Uganda right now”.
Bart Abeel also recalled the words of the Belgian Prime Minister, Elio Di Rupo, a year ago in Brussels when he announced his patronage of worldOutgames III: “People are not born homophobic but they are born homosexual”.