What Everyone Ought to Know About Uganda’s Anti-Gay Law

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NOTE: This text is from a New York Times Letter to the Editor in response to the article “Ugandan President Signs Anti-Gay Bill.”

The new antigay law in Uganda is alarming and, sadly, not shocking. You note that it follows the passage of similar legislation in Nigeria and fits within a growing trend that Amnesty International reported on last July.

The developments in Uganda and Nigeria underscore the depth to which many African leaders are determined to go, not only to discriminate against a segment of their populations, but also to incite hatred and potentially acts of violence. It is a failure of their obligations, internationally and regionally, to protect the rights of people living within their borders and a failure of governance.

Just over a month ago, Roger Jean-Claude Mbede of Cameroon, where the president, Paul Biya, has personally led the crackdown on the L.G.B.T. community, died because – according to media reports – members of his own family decided that he was better dead than alive and gay, removing him from the hospital where he was being treated for a hernia and allowing him to die.

The direction in which these leaders are taking their countries is horrific and appalling. Human rights activists and societal leaders must raise their voices and use their power to prove to one’s compatriots that being gay is not an affliction and that all people, no matter what their sexual orientation, have a right to be protected by their governments.

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