Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, hopes to fast-track anti-gay legislation in her country that would sentence those convicted of “”the offense of homosexuality” to life imprisonment.
So it’s a little surprising she was selected to chair a human-rights conference in London.
This week Kadega oversaw the International Parliamentary Conference on Gender and Politics in Westminster, where attendees discussed the lack of political power and representation felt by women around the world.
At the conference British MP Margot James spoke on behalf of the LGBT community, which knows something about disenfranchisement: “As a gay woman I would not be able to even stand for election in many of the countries represented here today, and the situation is even more dire for gay men in so much of the Commonwealth,” she said. “I urge the women legislators here today to stand up for the gay minority in your country and remember those who, like women, are discriminated against.”
But James’ words fell on Kadega’s deaf ears, as the Ugandan politician has promised to speed up the debate on the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill (formerly known as the “Kill the Gays” bill) which has been bouncing around the Ugandan Parliament since 2009. (Debate was reopened in October 2011, with Kadaga saying it would be sent to committee.)
It’s believed President Yoweri Museveni would probably bow to international pressure and veto the bill, but speaking to religious leaders last week, Kadega said, “If the price of aid is going to be the promotion of homosexuality in this country, I think we don’t want that aid.”
Kadaga had recently been called out for Uganda’s “trampling” of human rights by Canadian foreign-affairs minister John Baird, but stated she “will not accept to be intimidated or directed by any government in the world on matters of homosexuality.”