By Melanie Nathan, October 20, 2014.
President Yoweri Museveni was greeted in London by a large protest when he arrived to attend the Global African Investment Summit.
The members of Out And Proud Diamond Group have ensured that their disapproval of the dictator’s human rights infractions are heard loud and clear. The group are amongst those who have been directly impacted by harsh human rights abuses, which includes the odious anti-gay law and its resulting state sanctioned persecution, which caused many to seek exile in the United Kingdom and other countries.
While Uganda is expected to solicit investors to finance projects in key industries, asylees exiled by Uganda’s harsh anti gay climate are demonstrating against the President, outside the Savoy Hotel in London, where Museveni is staying for the two day summit, to be chaired by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
African countries attending will seek to direct funds from some of the world’s largest institutional investors into projects across five African countries, namely Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Togo. These countries also oppress their LGBT communities.
At this time Uganda still criminalizes homosexuality under a draconian Penal Code, and members of parliament are seeking to re-table the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which had been previously signed by Museveni, but was then invalidated by the Courts due to a lack of quorum at the time of passage.
The group protested urging: “Ugandan Anti-Gay laws are bad for investment.”
Keeping the pressure on Museveni by Ugandans, forced into exile, due to persecution suffered as a result of state sponsored homophobia, could be highly effective, as it sends a message to Uganda’s government, parliamentarians as well as global investors that anti-gay laws will not be tolerated, a notion that Museveni recently seemed to acknowledge himself in an editorial he penned, appearing in local Ugandan news papers.
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UPDATED COMMENTS FROM PROTEST ORGANIZERS OPDG:
Members of an African LGBTI organization, Out and Proud Diamond Group and their allies protested yesterday outside Savoy Hotel in London by the River entrance, which was the main entrance to the summit, where the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni and other African leaders attended an investment summit that attracted business leaders from across the organization.
The Protest took in the early hours of Monday morning that it was witnessed by the delegates that were lining up to enter the summit. The British Ambassador to Uganda Ms Allison Blackburn greeted the protestors. It is also believed that President Museveni was driven passed the protest.
Isaac Kawesi an organizer of this protest said that “it is unfortunate that President Museveni could be given a warm reception in the UK a country that has showed its disappointment with his track record on gay rights. It is hypocritical of the British government to be seen doing another thing in the presence of the President of Uganda in the UK and the same time criticizes him in his absence. Trade and investment is very important but I personally believe that my rights should be given priority.”
Aidah Asaba member of Out and Proud Diamond Group who attended the protest as well said, “I call upon the business community in the UK and the British government to use this opportunity to publicaly speak out against the increasing persecution of LGBTI people in Uganda and other African countries that they wish to invest in. It is very important to me to continue to show my disapproval of President Museveni’s actions towards LGBTI rights. Also to send out a clear message to all fellow Ugandans and Africans that anti-gay laws are bad for investment.”
Edwin Sesange director of Out and Proud Diamond Group said, “we are not against any foreign investment to Africa countries. But the anti-gay laws in Uganda and other African countries do scare away investors. This is the chance for President Museveni and other leaders to present a case to the international business community on how progressive they are planning to be in in terms of gay rights. “