1 min

Museveni’s UK visit protested as two Ugandans face trial

British government criticized for hosting president after anti-gay law enacted

As two Ugandans appeared in court, charged with “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” under a colonial-era law, the UK government has been criticized for hosting President Yoweri Museveni, who recently signed a law that further criminalizes homosexuality in Uganda.

Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who were arrested in January, face the prospect of life in prison if they are found guilty of violating the sodomy law. They were arrested prior to the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Law in February. While Mukasa was granted bail May 7, Mukisa remains in jail for failing to meet residency requirements, CNN reports. Their trial is reportedly set for June.

A number of groups, including LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, STOPAIDS, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, Justice for Gay Africans, and Amnesty International, condemned the UK government’s decision to green-light Museveni’s visit to London for a business forum, contending that business interests are being allowed to supersede human rights.

“The anti-gay law has put at risk the lives of LGBT Ugandans and an effective AIDS response,” STOPAIDS director Ben Simms says in a statement. “It is shameful that the Foreign Office has given the Ugandan government the red carpet treatment, with ministers speaking on the same platform as Museveni.”

According to The Huffington Post, Mark Simmonds, the UK’s parliamentary under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has criticized Museveni during the visit, saying Uganda would attract more investment if it respected its people’s rights, but activists say it is hypocritical for the British government to claim it is promoting LGBT rights abroad even as it hosts countries like Uganda that persecute gay people.

A vociferous protest was staged May 7 outside the St James’ Court, a London hotel where Museveni was speaking to Ugandan community and business leaders.