American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda to hold summit same week as Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Parliament Agenda

By Melanie Nathan, February 16, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 7.10.50 PM

Patrick Bitature, the chairman of Uganda Investment Authority

While the Ugandan Parliament is about to debate the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, next week, Uganda will host a key energy and infrastructure summit at the same time, to explore private sector involvement.

Kelly Mactavish-Mundar, the president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda, says the February 22 meeting will bring together service providers and financiers who should help build the broken down infrastructure through private sector involvement.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda  represents the collective interests of the U.S. business community in that country. How can Mactavish be silent on the Kill the Gays Bill that will require the reporting of homosexuals within 24 hours of finding out someone is gay, when so many American corporations openly support LGBTI diversity in the workplace.

One wonders what Mactavish has done to engage Ugandans, especially parliamentarians, on the pitfalls that will befall Uganda regarding investing in Uganda, should the Anti-Homosexuality Bill pass next week.  It seems to me that too much focus has been placed on threats from the West to cut AID.  Aid to uganda should not be cut for any reason, other than embezzlement and corruption, where it is not reaching the intended targets anyway. However investing in Uganda is another story, as commercial enterprises such as banks, hotels and all in energy sectors will find themselves subject to laws that make it impossible to operate in Uganda.  Imagine risking employees and executive’s freedoms if they fail to report colleagues for being gay, as the law will require. Imagine operating or investing in a country that demands the death of gays by its law, while touting diversity policies that includes gays in the global arena.

The Ugandan News publication New Vision Reports:

“The chamber is hosting the summit. The discovery of commercially  viable oil deposits and mineral deposits have seen Uganda’s reputation as an extractive industry hub slowly grow. The industry is also expected to create multiple supply value chains which will have huge spin offs for the country’s economy. Mactavish, also a private tour and travel operator, said Uganda is ready to cash in on its natural and human capital resource, especially the unique offering of tourism that is unmatched anywhere in the world. “This summit is timely in furthering the opportunities Uganda has. Let us embrace it,” Mactavish said, while announcing the summit.

Businessman Patrick Bitature will make the key note address at the conference. Susan Muhwezi, the head of the Africa Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) mission in Uganda, said poor infrastructure is one of the factors that have curtailed local enterprises from fully exploiting the opportunities under AGOA. The summit, under the theme Investment Opportunities in Energy and Infrastructure in Uganda, is supported by Uganda Investment Authority and Sheraton Kampala Hotel.

Sheraton Hotel general manager Chris Pollard said the energy revolution has seen global hotel brands turn their focus to this part of the world following the knock on effect the sector has brought.

Key sectors that the Government and private sector will focus on will be power, renewable energy, infrastructure, oil and gas business.”

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 6.47.12 PMThe American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda is one of 112 American Chambers of Commerce in 100 countries around the world.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce federation is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of all sizes and sectors worldwide.

I think it may be too late, but I would certainly like to hear what Kelly Mactavish has to say at this time about the Anti-gay Bill. I sent  an email with this article and this note

Dear Kelly Mactavish,

Kindly comment on the following article, for the record.  Please note if you have not yet read the onerous measures contained in the Ugandan Kill the Gays Bill, which President Obama described as “odious” I would be happy to provide you with a copy. Even if they take out the death penalty, the Bill is still unacceptable.” ……

Maybe a few emails expressing concern would be a plan. PLEASE be polite!

Kelley MacTavish-Mungar
American Chamber of Commerce of Uganda
Plot No 94 William Street-NCR Building
P.O.Box 2109 Kampala,Uganda

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9 Comments on “American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda to hold summit same week as Anti-Homosexuality Bill on Parliament Agenda”

  1. Tracy February 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM #

    Here’s my letter sent to Kelley M:

    “I’m writing to make my feelings known to the attendees at this summit that it is unacceptable to me for agencies such as the ACC to arrange this sort of meet up in Uganda- even as this country is planning to criminalize it’s gay citizens with it’s “Ugandan Kill the Gays Bill”- currently nearing parliment vote.

    For the ACC to turn a blind-eye to this sort of planned discrimination & murder is unacceptable. Instead, there ought to be embargos or other measures put into place to demonstrate to this gov’t that the rest of the world community is aghast at their behaviour- not hold summits & pretend everything is just fine!”

    • Melanie Nathan February 17, 2013 at 9:19 AM #

      This Chamber of Commerce I believe operates in Uganda. It was formed back in 2008 with help of the UG US Embassay the US State department. The point is less about whether than can operate there or even hold the summit and more about has its leadership spoken up against the AHB or just remained silent. So I am not suggesting they dont hold the summit as the Bill has yet to pass – I am suggesting they tell Ugandans how the BILL will hurt their economy even more than its already hurting because it will be functionally impossible for CORPS to operate while that Bill is in effect.

  2. James Wasukira February 17, 2013 at 6:13 AM #

    Let Ugandans decide what is best for them. If Americans can decide their interests without foreign interference, why not let other countries do the same? It’s a democratic country with an elected parliament….let them be. Even some states in America still oppose gay marriage…let this arrogance stop.

    • Melanie Nathan February 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM #

      James you miss the point., Of course Uganda is free to make its own law. They are a sovereign and purportedly democratic (not to mention Museveni and 25 years dictatorship) country! By the same token, Americans should have the right to complain when their money and American Companies operate in Countries that do not respect our morality. In our morality we believe in equality and human rights for all. So if Uganda soes not want Citibank, Google, Facebook to operate and invest there that is okay with me. The point is Barclays, Citi, Hilton Hotels and many many USA and UK Companies have written in their hiring policies that they believe in openly gay people being hired for jobs under their diversity guidelines. How can these companies now safely operate in a place that says these employees are criminal. It would be very hypocritical and against our Principles in the West. The point of this article is for the American Chamber of Commerce to inform Ugandans that we will not want to or be able to work in a Country that criminalizes us for not reporting our gay coworkers. I want to know if the American Chamber of Commerce has delievered this information. After that Ugandans can make their choice and the West can make its choice. That is what is fair. But don’t expect business as usual if you pass a law that calls on Barclays Bank to turn in the GAYS it offered to hire on its website. OR do you think Barclays should add the following to its website: “OUR LGBTI DIVERSITY POLICY DOES NOT APPLY IN UGANDA”

      In truth their diversity policy on their website can be seen under the new law as “promoting” homosexuality which carries a prison term too. So that means Uganda is criminalizing Barclays Bank the moment the law passes. You see it is Uganda that will make it impossible for Western companies to participate in its local economy. That is the point. I am not telling you not to be sovereign, I am telling you that if you make laws such as this you will be isolating yourself from the West, – Just like South Africa did when it made its Apartheid laws, claiming sovereignty too.

  3. Tom M., HIV Programming and Care Consultant/Global Rights Activist and Author February 18, 2013 at 5:31 PM #

    The issue of same sex attracted persons is given labels and denigrated simply because many may not understand human growth and development. There is a parallel in other aspects of life. Yesterday,I was talking to parents ( recently descended from and immigrated from Africa) and asked them to share stories of problem children ( with signs of ADHD). Many pointed to examples in Africa of having them caned (corporeal assault) or locked in bedrooms ( grounded) so that neighbors do not know about a child “like that” in the family. In the USA, Canada and UK, these children are treated humanely. In understanding ADHD there are lessons for many of us who look at humans as a diverse community, when it also comes to homosexuality. Failure to problematize patriarchy, hetero-normative structural supremacist acts, subjugation, alpha-males tendencies and suppression of homo-normative tendencies through violence or Criminalization are recourse we have allowed to take the day. We still use the approach of abusing some, we do not understand, with impunity! We need to style up!


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