In response to Uganda’s latest anti-gay bill, which criminalized same-sex marriage and declared that repeat “offenders” of homosexual sexual activity could be sentenced to life imprisonment, Scotland’s Minister For External Affairs, Humza Yousaf, has announced Scotland’s intention to offer asylum to Ugandans being persecuted under the new anti-homosexuality law.
Yousaf wrote to UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague detailing the Scottish Government’s plan to welcome any Ugandan LGBT persecuted by the law. He also urged Hague to “offer asylum to any Ugandans who feel threatened or persecuted by the legislation.”
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda is a huge step back for equality and I have written to the UK Government asking it to make the strongest possible representations to the Government of Uganda,” Yousaf wrote.
In addition, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) asked the UK Government “to support this proposal to allow Ugandans, under threat of imprisonment as a consequence of their sexuality, to find refuge in Scotland.”
Yousaf’s letter comes in advance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which will be hosted in Glasgow this summer. Ugandan officials will be attending to watch their own compete against the other fifty-two nations set to participate in the athletic competition.
Currently, forty-one out of the fifty-three nations within the commonwealth maintain the criminalization of same-sex relations.
The anti-homosexuality bill, after months of delay and debate between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his government, was signed into law on Monday, February 24, supposedly in part as a defiant response to the West’s attempts to stop the law.
The day after Museveni signed the bill, a local tabloid published a “Top 200 Homos” list, including some who have not either personally or publicly identified themselves as gay.
Yousaf’s letter continued, “No one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society.
“Ugandan legislation flies in the face of Scotland’s values…and we will continue to monitor the situation closely.”
Though the UK Foreign office has yet to respond to Yousaf’s letter, Hague has already publicly spoken out, urging Uganda to “protect all its citizens and encourage tolerance, equality and respect.” He added, “We will continue to press the government of Uganda to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds.”