Hey, Uganda! If you want to convince your foreign investors that you’re for reals not anti-gay, try actually doing something to show it.
It seems that in spite of declarations that Uganda will not be “blackmailed” into revoking its homophobic laws, and claims that the nation does not need the (substantial) foreign aid it receives from countries around the globe…now that the government’s deadline for releasing its operation budget is looming, president Yoweri Museveni has decided some public relations are in order.
Most of all, they want the rest of the world to know they’re totally not as bad as the global press has claimed. That whole fiasco about government-sanctioned homophobia, for example? According to Reuters, the Ugandan government said in a press release that while that law had been written to stop “open promotion of homosexuality,” especially to impressionable youngsters, “its enactment has been misinterpreted as a piece of legislation intended to punish and discriminate against people of a ‘homosexual orientation,’ especially by our development partners.”
Seriously? The legislation literally titled The Anti-Homosexual Bill is not intended to punish or discriminate against anyone?! The laws that made homosexual activity punishable by up to life in prison, and criminalized anything that could be considered “promoting” homosexuality?! Leading to things like Uganda’s so-called minister of ethics claiming that HIV support groups are actually promoting “bad morals” and should therefore be shut down?!
Riiight…and we have always been at war with Eastasia.
And no, this wasn’t originally an Onion article. Believe me, I checked.
Because clearly, being called homophobic is far worse than actually being homophobic, federal disclosure filings showed that Uganda’s government recently hired Mercury, a D.C. consulting firm, to improve its public image in the US. According to Buzzfeed, on July 17 Uganda signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the company.
…they REALLY couldn’t have thought of anything better to do with that kind of budget? Museveni, if you want queer people to GTFO, start a program “encouraging” them to immigrate. I bet $600,000 buys a LOT of bus tickets.
Buzzfeed reported that Mercury could not be immediately reached for comment, but the contract they entered into reads in part, “Mercury will provide consulting and communications services to promote trade and investment opportunities in Uganda.” Specifically, the firm will monitor media relations, including coverage of both Uganda in general and Museveni in particular.
Interesting tidbit: one of the signatures on the contract happens to be that of former congressman and Romney campaign adviser Vin Weber, who is a partner at Mercury. Maybe after that whole “47 percent” debacle, he figures someone who only wants to write off about 10 percent of the population should be a cinch.
Even with Mercury’s help, Uganda can try all it likes to claim that its intentions have been “misinterpreted,” but evidence will show otherwise.