Protest targets Ugandan plan to praise anti-LGBT law in England

Anita Among, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda. (Photo courtesy of NTV)

Anita Among, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda. (Photo courtesy of NTV)

By Joto La Jiwe

Human rights activists based in and outside Uganda have petitioned the government of the United Kingdom, urging it to cancel an invitation to Anita Among, Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, to participate in the Commonwealth’s 75th anniversary celebrations scheduled for next month in London.

Among was the chief architect of the  draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA),  one of the world’s harshest anti-LGBTQI+ laws. It calls for life imprisonment for consenting gay sex acts and the death penalty for people it describes as serial offenders.

Among has publicly stated that she will use the opportunity to defend the AHA.

U.K. Parliament Speaker Lindsay Hoyle extended an invitation to Among to represent Uganda, a former British protectorate, in the celebrations alongside speakers from other Commonwealth nations.

King Charles III (then the Prince of Wales) at the Commonwealth Day service in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Westminster Abbey)

King Charles III, who was then the Prince of Wales, at the Commonwealth Day service in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Westminster Abbey)

Commonwealth Day 2024, scheduled for March 11, will kick off a week-long series of celebrations around the globe, including school assemblies, flag-raising ceremonies and cultural events.

The Commonwealth, which consists mostly of former British colonies, includes 31 nations that still have anti-homosexuality laws — roughly three-fifths of the group’s total of 56 countries.

In an online petition signed by 2,103 people globally, the petitioners not only ask for Among to be disinvited but also denied a U.K. entry visa because of her extreme view on LGBTQI+ persons.

The petition reads as follows:


Dear Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP,

We, the undersigned, urge you to rescind the invitation extended to Ugandan Parliament Speaker Anita Among for the upcoming Commonwealth anniversary celebrations. Her role in championing Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act and publicly stated intention to defend it at this critical Commonwealth celebration contradicts the values of human rights and dignity that the United Kingdom stands for.

Granting her this opportunity would send a message of tacit support for the Act and further endanger the lives and well-being of LGBT+ individuals in Uganda. Additionally, it would undermine progress made on LGBT+ rights in some parts of the Commonwealth, sending the wrong signal at a time when we are at risk of a global backlash on LGBT+ rights. We believe the UK should lead by example in supporting inclusivity and equality for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We respectfully request that you reconsider the invitation to ensure that the Commonwealth anniversary remains a symbol of unity and diversity, not division, hate and discrimination.

The petition is supported by:

  • African Rainbow Family
  • All Out
  • Human Dignity Trust
  • Kaleidoscope International Trust
  • Peter Tatchell Foundation
  • ReportOUT
  • Stonewall
  • The Commonwealth Equality Network
Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell addresses the April 6 protest. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail)

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell addresses LGBT+ Lives Matter protest in 2019. (Photo courtesy of the Daily Mail)

When the anti-LGBT+ bill was signed, Among said Uganda had “a culture to protect” and that “the Western world will not come to rule Uganda”.

LGBT+ campaigner Peter Tatchell met on Feb. 7 with Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons and urged him to press the U.K. Home Secretary, James Cleverly, to ban Among from entering the U.K. Tatchell is the director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, a British charity that promotes human rights.

Hoye reportedly “agreed to put forward concerns raised” to  Cleverly. It remains to be seen whether the British government will respond to the appeal and deny Among a visa.

The United States reportedly has already done so. According to the Ugandan  government newspaper, New Vision, the U.S. Embassy in Kampala notified Among that her visa for travel to the U.S. had been revoked in May 2023, shortly after President Yoweri Museveni assented to the AHA.

Dorothy Awori, a human rights lawyer, says she not surprised by the calls to ban Among from entering the U.K.

“The party is over. She is now reaping what she sowed and the worst is yet to come,” Awori said. “You can’t mastermind a law that is clearly inhumane and expect smooth sailing.”

Studies by the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), a legal aid organization in Uganda, show that since the passage of the AHA, the nation has experienced an unprecedented upsurge in violent attacks against LGBTQI+ persons.

HRAPF documented of cases of physical assault, illegal arrests, sexual violence, evictions, blackmail, loss of employment and denial of access to healthcare all over the country.

At the time of the signing of the AHA, Andrew Mitchell, head of the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, condemned the act, saying that the U.K. government was “appalled” that Uganda had passed such a “deeply discriminatory” bill.

Source: African Human Rights Media Network member Erasing 76 Crimes

Joto La Jiwe, the author of this article, is a Ugandan correspondent for the African Human Rights Media Network. He writes under a pseudonym. Contact him at [email protected].