The speaker of Uganda’s parliament is accusing Canada of denying some of her fellow lawmakers visas for an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference — and she is falsely accusing Canada of doing so due to the Ugandans’ opposition to marriage equality.
The latest dispute began Monday when Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird criticized Uganda, Syria, and Iran for their atrocious human rights records, including the government-supported killing of religious and sexual minorities.
Baird’s statement occurred before some 1,400 international parliamentarians who were meeting for the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec. According to The Canadian Press, Canada made little if any effort “to stop the presence of legislators from those countries at the 127th conference of the IPU, which Canada is hosting this year.”
Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Rebecca Kadaga responded by accusing Baird of “arrogance” and “ignorance.” Kadaga demanded an apology. “If homosexuality is a value for the Canadian people, that’s not a problem for us, that’s it’s issue, but one shouldn’t force Ugandans to accept homosexuality because we’re not Canadian citizens,” Kadaga said, reportedly receiving applause from the conference floor.
Baird responded to the various nations’ objections: “I know staying silent is never an option when people stone women, when they hang gays, when they incite genocide, when they say they want to wipe the Jewish people and the Jewish state off the map, when they dishonour their UN obligations, when they spread hateful and racist rhetoric.”
Kadaga escalated the dispute on Tuesday, according to Uganda’s Daily Trust, which reported only Kadaga’s perspective and not that of Canadian officials.
First Kadaga accused Canada of denying visas and provided a dubious reason for the supposed denial; Canada did not exclude other nations that do not recognize marriage equality, and likely excluded Uganda parliamentarians who are known to support genocide. Just two weeks ago, during celebrations of Uganda’s 50th anniversary of independence, parliamentarian Cecilia Atim Ogwal was among those who publicly called upon all of Africa to support Uganda’s final solution. Visiting lawmakers from Namibia and South Africa criticized Ogwal’s proposal, according to Box Turtle Bulletin.
Kadaga also said that antigay parliamentarians had refused to allow the Quebec conference organizers to pre-review their speeches for offensive or genocidal content.
Ugandan officials have frequently mischaracterized international human-rights concerns as a fight over “gay marriage,” in order to deflect global attention from Uganda’s ongoing campaign to legalize the execution of all homosexuals and to imprison family members, health professionals, and peers who support nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.