January 13, 2012 at 6:58 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Concern over Uganda ambassador appearance at King Day event

An LGBT advocate who asked not to be identified is urging two national gay rights groups and human rights organization TransAfrica to call on the United Negro College Fund to cancel an invitation to the Ugandan ambassador to the U.S. to appear as the keynote speaker at a Jan. 16 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in Greenbelt, Md.

“I am writing to you to share my shock, sadness and disappointment that the featured keynote speaker for the United Negro College Fund Jan. 16, 2012 event celebrating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is H.E. Perezi K. Kamunanwire, Ambassador to the United States from Uganda,” the activist said in an email to the Blade.

The D.C.-area activist noted that with legislation pending in Uganda calling for the death penalty for persons found “guilty” of committing consensual homosexual sex acts among adults that it is “most inappropriate” for an African-American organization to invite an official representative of Uganda to speak at a King Day event.

The activist stated in the email that the activist has urged the Human Rights Campaign and the National Black Justice Coalition, two LGBT organizations; and TransAfrica, a human rights organization that promotes equality and freedom in African countries, to speak out against the United Negro College Fund’s decision to invite the Ugandan ambassador to speak at the King event.

Joye Griffin, a spokesperson for the United Negro College Fund, said in a statement that the organization has a strong policy opposing discrimination based on sexual orientation. She said UNCF also opposes “abuses and violations of human rights whenever they occur.” Griffin said UNCF invited the Ugandan ambassador to speak at the King Day event based on his career as a distinguished educator and scholar who has taught at U.S. universities and directed black studies programs.

Representatives of the other three groups couldn’t be immediately reached to obtain their response to the activist’s concern.

U.S. and international LGBT rights organizations have called on the Uganda Parliament to withdraw from consideration what activists have described as the “kill the gays” bill.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Many thanks to the anonymous activist for alerting UNCF. The power of one person standing up and speaking out, and educating those who don’t know the ugly truths about homophobia and state-sanctioned prejudice can work wonders. I can’t help but think that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King would have been proud of your efforts.

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