He is compelled to enagage with civil societies and now lets compel him to hear LGBTI truths | Let us bombard him with appointments!
By Melanie Nathan, June 14, 214.
Much to the horror of the world’s LGBTI community, the United Nations has gone ahead with designating Ugandan Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs, as President of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
However while we grapple with trying to understand how the United Nations could possibly reward a country like Uganda, fraught with human rights abuses, a tyrant dictator for a President, and plagued by new laws, such as the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which basically defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we should try and look at the positive side of this appointment:
The U.N. website reports:
President Ashe meets with H.E., Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda
United Nations, New York, 9 June 2014
The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. John W. Ashe, met today with H.E. Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda and President-designate of the 69th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The two discussed the responsibilities and expectations of the Presidency of the General Assembly, including the selection of theme and the elaboration thereof. They also discussed the importance of engaging with Member States, Observers, civil society and the private sector.
The Foreign Minister commended President Ashe for ‘setting the stage’ for the Post-2015 Development Agenda and expressed his intent to build upon the momentum achieved. The President of the General Assembly advised the Foreign Minister of the forthcoming High-level Stocktaking Event slated for early September 2014.
President of the General Assembly John W. Ashe (left) with H.E., Mr. Sam Kahamba Kutesa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uganda- Photo/ Bill Bly
Mr. Kutesa is now a visible leading member of the International UN family. His duties as President, while somewhat meaningless in reality, with not much power, still provides visibility opportunities, which can be spun by the global LGBT and the human rights community to shed light on LGBTI issues and state endorsed homophobia, in his country and Africa in general.
Here are some notes and opportunities, that could spin this appointment in the direction of human rights defenders -
1) NOTE: Mr. Kutesa’s new found visibility should serve to shed light on Uganda’s conflict with what are considered ‘Universal Human Rights,’
OPPORTUNITY: To protest the Anti-Homosexuality laws and its overt result in persecution of LGBTI people in that country at the United Nations. – The September event seems a perfect time!
2) NOTE: The expectation of engagement by Mr. Kutesa is that he is must engage with Member States, observers, civil society and the private sector.
OPPORTUNITY: Every single LGBT organization in the United States and from abroad should ensure familiarity with protocol and make an urgent and immediate appointment to meet with Mr.Kutesa. That is certainly my own plan.
I believe the Universe works in most mysterious of ways. It has handed Uganda to the LGBTI world on a civil platter. Lest we forget the great irony that Uganda is now in the process of silencing the voice of Ugandan and foreign civil societies operating as human rights defenders for LGBTI people in Uganda, under the so called “anti-promotion of homosexuality” clause in the new Anti-Homosexuality Act. Well lo and behold – the Ugandans are now forced to hear the voice of our civil societies and they will have to hear us on United Nations soil – so to speak!
The San Francisco AFRICA Leadership Institute will be making a formal request to meet with Mr. Kutesa.
I hope The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Task Force, LAMBDA, SMUG, CCR, ACLU, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, and many others follow my lead here and do the same.
Also note that the Private Sector gets to meet with The UN General Assembly President too – and here is a huge opportunity to talk diversity in the work place and the onerous burden Uganda’s laws place on corporation seeking to do business in Uganda. For example how can Barclays, United Airlines, VISA, Hilton hotels, all having diversity policies to attract LGBTI employees continue to work in UGANDA with its new Anti-LGBT laws? Time to chat with Mr. Kutesa!
AND PLEASE when you do – consult with those ‘in the know’ including human rights defenders from ALL African countries impacted by Anti-Gay laws and old penal codes, as well as grass root survivors,and ongoing victims of the state sanctioned persecution against LGBTI Africans.
Please do NOT talk about EQUALITY (HRC- a message for you!) before you can start to talk about decriminalization. The latter will never happen until such time as those awful myths, emboldening the anti-gay laws are dispelled – therein lies the work and we now have an open forum – where UGANDA’s leadership is duty bound to receive us and hear from us. This is quite an interesting development and I am up for the challenge. Anyone want to join in?
And so what I am suggesting above, is a combination of open and public protests as well as a strong show of quiet diplomacy by LGBTI America and civil societies around the world. The UN is OURS – all of ours and we must seize this as an opportunity rather than just complain about Mr. Kutesa’s appointment.
SEE YOU AT THE United Nations!