Gay Citibank customer Colin Burton’s petition on Change.org urging for Citibank and Barclays to condemn Uganda’s anti-gay bill has garnered over 500,000 signatures, prompting both banks to issue brief, noncommittal statements.
The petition notes that Barclays is Uganada’s third largest bank with more than 1,000 employees and 51 branches throughout the nation while Citibank has invested nearly $300 million in Uganda, and is a major leader in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce based in Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
“Barclays has a strong history of supporting all aspects of diversity, both in the workplace and in wider society. Equally, we are proud of playing our part in the development of economies across Africa, and the key role Barclays plays in the lives of millions of our African customers,” said a spokesperson. “Barclays is aware of the proposed legislation relating to homosexuality in Uganda and we are engaging at appropriate levels of the Ugandan Government to express our views.”
Citibank’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications David Roskin released an even shorter, more ambiguous statement:
“While the laws and cultural norms in some countries where Citi operates differ from commonly accepted global standards for human rights, Citi supports equality without regard for, among other personal characteristics, race, gender, gender identity or expression, disability, age, nationality, or sexual orientation.”
Burton criticized Citibank’s statement, calling it dismissive.
“I’m disappointed that Citi delivered a dismissive statement that is not only contradictory in its very nature, but also serves as a reminder that Citi’s refusal to speak boldly on the issue poses a very real and dangerous threat to LGBT Ugandans, many of whom are also Citi customers.”
Passage of the anti-gay bill, previously known as the “Kill the Gays” bill for prescribing the death penalty for cases of “aggravated homosexuality,” has been delayed several times but is expected to come some time before Christmas.