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WikiLeaks Cables Highlight Uganda Homophobia

WikiLeaks Cables Highlight Uganda Homophobia


U.S. embassy cables released by WikiLeaks depict a deteriorating human rights climate, including ramped up homophobia, in advance of the Ugandan presidential elections being held Friday.

According to the Guardian, one leaked cable from a U.S. diplomat in Kampala talks about a UN-sponsored meeting in December 2009 on the bill that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality. The late gay rights activist David Kato, who was murdered last month, attended the panel and with "evident nervousness" delivered a speech against the bill while a member of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission openly mocked him.

"In the cable, dated 24 December 2009, the diplomat claimed Ugandan politicians, including the author of the anti-homosexuality bill, David Bahati, had channelled anger at the country's socio-political failings into 'violent hatred' of gay people," reports the Guardian.

"Other confidential memos sent between Kampala and Washington in 2009-2010 and sent to WikiLeaks paint a picture of a worsening human rights climate in the runup to Ugandan elections on Friday," the Guardian continues. "They chart Uganda's 'chilling' descent from tolerance to violent homophobia and a deepening fear among gay activists, who claim they are being increasingly monitored and harassed."

Bahati, joined by James Nsaba Buturo, the Ugandan minister for ethics and integrity, and Pastor Martin Ssempa, has attempted to deflect attention from the country's leadership shortcomings by scapegoating gay people, the leaked cables show.

The memos also reveal U.S. attempts to fight the antihomosexuality bill and the irritation of Bahati toward the American patrons. The United States gives more than $500 million in foreign aid to Uganda.

In advance of the presidential elections, other human rights activists reported restrictions on their freedoms including heightened monitoring of electronic communications.

The New York Times
reports that President Yoweri Museveni, who has led Uganda for 25 years, is widely expected to win another term Friday.

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