We at IGLHRC, along with LGBT Ugandans and human rights supporters worldwide, breathed a sigh of relief when news broke that Uganda’s Constitutional Court overturned the Anti-Homosexuality Act. This was a moment for celebration, though we know it is only one step forward in a battle against repression and hate. Within days, word came that Ugandan lawmakers planned to reintroduce the law and the Attorney General filed notice to appeal.
Global outrage over this dangerous law had impact. Certainly, it was no accident that the court overturned the Anti-Homosexuality Act days before Ugandan President Museveni arrived in Washington for President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Summit. A harsh image of Uganda was not the one Museveni wanted to present publicly in that setting. So while discriminatory laws remain on the books in Uganda and elsewhere, this law was declared null and void—a victory for human rights, even as new battles loom.
Ahead of the Summit, IGLHRC worked to ensure that discussions would promote economic development in Africa with human rights. We wrote to President Obama and American businesses to urge them to promote inclusive economic opportunities for the maximum benefit of all Africans. Our message: U.S. investment must be a means to help LGBT Africans access full participation in the economy.
An op-ed I wrote for Huffington Post highlighted this perspective: Prosperity in Africa Depends on Rights Equality for Every African.
Finally, IGLHRC fellow, Micheal Ighodaro, a Nigerian activist, represented our organization at a Washington dinner to honor Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. Ighodaro approached Jonathan and challenged him on the constitutionality of the Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Act.
In his final report on the Summit, President Obama referred to the “centrality of inclusive growth and the protection of human rights that benefit all citizens and communities." The President’s reference was opaque. Still, we’ll consider his language another small victory in progress toward human rights for everyone, everywhere.
With warmth and solidarity,
Published on August 15, 2014 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization