For the first time in history, a Ugandan presidential candidate backs gay rights
In a historic moment, Amama Mbazazi has become the first Ugandan presidential candidate to say he is opposed to homophobia.
The current Prime Minister, who launched his campaign last month to be named president in 2016, has shocked the public by saying that gay people, it turns out, are not the ‘biggest threat’.
Gay rights activists have hailed this as one of the most significant moments of progress that Uganda has seen in years.
Speaking on NDS Television earlier this morning, Mbabazi said: ‘I am opposed to homophobia. While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, homosexuality is not something new.
‘I have stated very clearly that there shouldn’t be any discrimination and it is not the biggest threat right now in the country.’
This is big in two ways. In Uganda, there is an attitude that homosexuality is ‘un-African’ or that it is a Western import. By making clear it is not anything new (after all, they once had a gay king), it could begin to be seen as natural. And by saying it is not a big threat, it should force the public to look at the serious issues that have been disguised by the current president Yoweri Museveni’s unrelenting and public campaign against the LGBTI community.
His statement caused a deep divide among the Ugandan public, with some saying it was right that LGBTI people should not be persecuted while others said they could not support him because of this issue. Some on NDS Television’s Facebook page even wondered whether Mbabazi was receiving his campaign funds from Americans.
Mbabazi, who has served as Uganda’s Prime Minister, was opposed to the Anti-Homosexuality Act because he believed that homosexuals should not be killed.
Edwin Sesange, a LGBTI Ugandan rights activist, commended Mbabazi for ‘bravely standing up against homophobia’.
‘This is the first time in Ugandan history for an aspiring presidential candidate to speak publicly against homophobia,’ he said to Gay Star News. ‘We call upon other presidential candidates to be inspired by him.
‘We would like to make it clear that no LGBTI person in Uganda is campaigning for same-sex marriage, we are campaigning against being persecuted.’
While Sesange said he was concerned his message might be used against him in the election, he added: ‘We have more work to be done to support those allies who are against homophobia as well as helping to change people’s attitudes towards the LGBTI community.’
In Mbabazi’s campaign video, launched last month, he said: ‘You’ll be making a choice for your families, your children, and the generations to come. A new age is upon us, and upon this, our focus must rest. Yesterday is gone, and today’s challenges must have newer, better answers. Uganda can work, together let us make it work.’