Rather than face questions about his country’s now-shelved “Kill the Gays” bill, Ugandan ambassador Perezi Kamunanwire (right) withdrew his acceptance as the keynote speaker at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event sponsored by the United Negro College Fund in Maryland
Veteran Washington Blade writer Lou Chibbaro contacted United Negro College Fund President Michael Lomax after an unnamed reader expressed “shock” that a representative of a country with such a notable anti-gay atmosphere would be asked to speak on a day honoring a human-rights leader.
Lomax, in turn, sent a letter to the diplomat:
“UNCF’s history and mission make us especially alert to violations of human rights, wherever they occur,” Lomax said in his letter. “So while we recognize that these issues are matters of internal Ugandan policy, we are dismayed at present polices in Uganda (and in many other African countries) criminalizing sexual orientation, and we view with alarm the draconian penalties, including the death penalty that the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill would impose if passed.”
Lomax added, “Given the interest expressed in the Washington community, I hope that you will address this issue when you speak at the King Day and take questions at the conclusion of your remarks.”
Lomax also told Kamunawire that UNCF is partnering with HRC to address LGBT issues on campuses nationwide, and “to establish a mission, goals and objectives to address those issues.”
Kamunanwire must’ve realized he or he felt he’d be stepping on a political landmine if he showed up, because on Friday he cancelled his appearance at today’s event. Lomax appeared in his stead and spoke on human rights and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Sounds like a better talk anyway.
Photo: Embassy of Uganda