The US revoked Among’s visa over the Anti-homosexuality law
Kampala, Uganda | RONALD MUSOKE | Gay rights activists in the UK and Uganda are urging the British government not to grant a visa to Anita Annet Among, the Speaker of Parliament, which is supposed to enable her travel to the U.K to attend the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth.
On Feb.7, LGBT+ campaigner, Peter Tatchell, met with Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons and urged him to press the UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, to ban Speaker Among from entering the UK. Tatchell is the Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, a British charity that seeks to promote and protect the human rights of individuals, communities and nations.
Tatchell has urged Speaker Hoyle to arrange a meeting with the Home Secretary to put the case for Anita Among to be denied entry to attend UK events celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth in March.
“Anita Among promoted the new Ugandan law that makes some consenting same-sex acts punishable by execution. This murderous persecution of LGBT+ people violates the values of respect, tolerance, equality and human rights that Britain and its parliament seek to uphold,” said Tatchell, “Her presence in the UK would not be conducive to public order, harmonious community relations and the public good. The Home secretary should use his powers to exclude her from Britain.”
Tatchell said he was acting at the request of Ugandan LGBT+ campaigners. “I thank Sir Lindsay for hearing our concerns and agreeing to take action to ensure that this odious politician, who advocates the killing of LGBT+ people, is not welcome in Parliament – or anywhere in the UK,” said Tatchell.
It is not clear whether Speaker Among or her deputy, Thomas Tayebwa, have applied for visas to go participate in the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth, an association of independent states many of which are former British colonies and protectorates.
Efforts to talk to Speaker’s Principal Press Secretary, Joseph Sabiiti, and Chris Obore, the Director, Communication and Public Affairs, in the Parliament of Uganda were futile as both did not pick their calls or answer text messages.
‘Blood on her hands’
“Among’s presence in the UK would send a terrible signal that Britain tolerates the extreme homophobia of those who advocate the killing of LGBT+ people. There should be no facilitation of, and collusion with, a politician who has blood on her hands,” said Tatchell.
In a February 6 letter addressed to Speaker Hoyle, the British gay rights campaigner says both Ugandan and British activists are alarmed that the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Anita Among, is to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Commonwealth in the UK including an event that is to be hosted by Hoyle in the House of Commons.
“Ms. Among is one of the architects of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), 2023, which has been dubbed the “Kill the Gays” law,” the letter reads in part, “It is one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBT+ laws, with mandatory automatic life imprisonment for consenting same-sex acts, and the death penalty for serial offenders and for the elderly LGBT+ couples aged 75 and over who have sex.”
“We hope you agree that Anita Among, one of the driving forces behind this draconian legislation should be barred from entry into the U.K and should not be hosted in Parliament. This is also the view of Ugandan LGBT+ and human rights campaigners.”
“We are supporting the appeal and hope you will too. Ms. Among’s presence in the U.K would send a terrible signal that Britain tolerates the extreme homophobia of those to(sic) advocate the killing of LGBT+ people.”
Tatchell says in his letter that there should be no facilitation and collusion with a politician who has blood on her hands. “I hope you can assure me and our Ugandan colleagues that Ms. Among will not be welcome in Britain or in our Parliament.”
“I invite you to make representation to the Home and Foreign Secretaries that Anita Among should be denied entry to the U.K on the grounds that she opposes the British values of respect and equality and that her presence would not be conducive to the public good, harmonious community relations and public order, Tatchell says in his letter to the Speaker.
Will Britain bend to pressure?
It remains to be seen whether the British government will succumb to pressure and deny Among her visa. In May, last year, just days after President Yoweri Museveni assented to the Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023, the United States Embassy in Kampala wrote to Among notifying her about the revocation of her visa to the U.S.
Speaker Among had just hailed President Museveni for signing the bill into law. But Speaker Among shot back saying, she is okay as long as ‘she has her visa’ to Bukedea (her home district) and Buyende (her husband’s home district). Among told MPs who have been banned from traveling to the United States because of the Anti-Gay law, not to worry because “they have all they need in Uganda.”
Dr. Frank Mugisha, the former Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, an organisation whose licence was revoked by the government told The Independent that there is nothing wrong with a British citizen expressing their solidarity with Uganda’s LGBT+ community. “They have seen what’s happening in Uganda and they are expressing their solidarity with the community.”
On March 21, last year, the 11th Parliament, for the second time in nine years passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill which President Yoweri Museveni assented to two months later, on May 26, 2023.
The law among other deterrent clauses includes mandatory life imprisonment for consenting same-sex acts, up to 20 years jail for advocating LGBT+ equality and the death penalty for repeat homosexual offenders and for homosexuality involving a person aged 75 and over – which effectively paves the way for the execution of elderly same-sex couples.
“We have legislated to protect the sanctity of family as per Article 31 of the Constitution of Uganda. We have stood strong to defend our culture and aspirations of our people as per objectives 19 and 24 of national objectives and directive principles of state policy. I thank His Excellency, the President for his steadfast action in the interest of Uganda,” Among said.
“We shall always stand for and promote the interest of the people of Uganda. I now encourage the duty bearers under the law to execute the mandate bestowed upon them in the Anti-Homosexuality Act. The people of Uganda have spoken, and it is your duty to now enforce the law in a fair, steadfast and firm manner.”
MP Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality) who moved a private member’s bill to embark on the process of enacting the Anti-Homosexuality law noted at the time that its overall objective is to establish comprehensive and enhanced legislation to protect the traditional family by prohibiting same-sex relations as well as strengthening Uganda’s capacity to deal with the emerging threats to the traditional family.
Basalirwa argued that the new law would protect the “cherished culture of Uganda,” children, and youth who have become vulnerable to sexual abuse as well as prohibit same-sex marriages.
Since the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, Ugandan LGBT+ rights organisations have reported a disturbing surge in violence and discrimination against LGBTs. The law has fostered an environment of fear and persecution, leading to beatings, sexual and psychological violence, evictions, blackmail, loss of employment, and denial of access to healthcare based on actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
Local Ugandan groups such as the Strategic Response Team, a coalition of Ugandan LGBT+ rights organisations reported in September 2023 that LGBT+ people have experienced “intensified violence and discrimination,” including beatings, sexual and psychological violence, evictions, blackmail, loss of employment and denial of access to healthcare on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.
Dr. Mugisha told The Independent that the damage of the AHA has been so severe on the LGBT+ community in Uganda to the extent that they will leave with the trauma even if this law, which was challenged in court, is rescinded.