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U.N. faces backlash over appointment of anti-gay politician to senior position

He will assume the position of president of the general assembly, one step under Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
By Aileen Graef   |   June 2, 2014 at 4:12 PM  |  Updated June 2, 2014 at 4:37 PM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, June 2 (UPI) -- The United Nations is facing backlash after the decision to appoint Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa as president of the General Assembly.

The backlash is coming from human rights advocates who are protesting Kutesa's appointment on the basis that he supported anti-gay laws in Uganda. The laws threaten to put people engaged in homosexual behavior in prison for life.

"They're [homosexuals] disgusting. What sort of people are they?" Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni once told CNN. "I never knew what they were doing. I've been told recently that what they do is terrible. Disgusting. But I was ready to ignore that if there was proof that that's how he is born, abnormal. But now the proof is not there."

Kutesa, although not quite as vocal as Museveni, has made his feelings on the subject known.

"The majority of Africans abhor this practice." Kutesa said. "We shall not accept promotion and exhibition, because we think that is wrong for our young people and it offends our culture."

He will be the ceremonial head of the U.N. and no votes will be cast for his appointment as his position he is the only candidate chosen by the African Union. Activists and politicians have pushed back against Kutesa's appointment.

"It would be disturbing to see the foreign minister of a country that passed an unjust, harsh and discriminatory law based on sexual orientation preside over the U.N. general assembly," said U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

U.K. activist Peter Tatchell said the governments should intervene and "David Cameron and William Hague should be lobbying the U.N. to block Kutesa's appointment on the grounds that his political record is inconsistent with U.N. principles."

Kutesa will officially assume his new position June 11.

Follow @AileenGraef and @UPI on Twitter.
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