Richard Branson Calls for Boycotts to Uganda if Anti-Homosexuality Bill is Law

“I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit.”

By Melanie Nathan, Dec 24, 2013, 8:41 am.

Screen Shot 2013-12-24 at 8.38.28 AMRichard Branson, was about to do business with Uganda when he changed his mind.  The Virgin founder said Uganda must abandon the recently passed Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would make homosexuality punishable by up to life in prison.  Unless the Bill is abandoned, Uganda, according to Branson will find itself “ostracized by companies and tourists worldwide”.

“I have been courted by various people and government officials to do business in Uganda. I was seriously considering it,” Branson wrote on his website on Monday.

“However, the dreadful witch hunt against the gay community and lifetime sentences means it would be against my conscience to support this country.

“I would urge other companies worldwide to follow suit. Uganda must reconsider or find it being ostracised by companies and tourists worldwide.”

He added: “Governments must realise that people should be able to love whoever they want.”

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill outlaws sexual interactions between same-sex partners, with a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality. A proposal to put the punishment to 14 years in jail was rejected by the legislators. The Bill also makes it illegal to “promote” homosexuality, an ill-defined and very wide term, as well as implements a 3 year prison terms for anyone who fails to turn in and report a known homosexual to police.  The Bill far exceed the current and more vague Penal Code criminalization of homosexuality, with explicit terms and harsh sentences.

The stupidity of the law actually will make it impossible to do business in Uganda for Western corporations. It will conflict with the existing corporate hiring practices of many of these companies. It will also place staff at risk of arrest.

Many corporations, such as Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America, have open and diverse hiring practices, where they actively recruit LGBTI people as part of diversity programs and where they refuse to discriminate in hiring. Facebook, Google, Barclays Bank, other banks, hotel chains, airlines, etc., some of whom operate in Uganda and others who do business with Uganda, all have pro LGBTI hiring policies.

Notwithstanding the matter of principle, imagine how impossible it will be for all such businesses to operate in Uganda, when portions of the hiring pool are considered criminals in a particular country. How does one send a manager or an executive or any employee into a country risking arrest of that employee if he or she fails to abide Ugandan law by outing a fellow worker?

And so Branson’s call for boycotts make sense and are well founded.

The Private Member Bill is not yet law. The President, Museveni, does not have the right to veto the bill. But he can assent to it.  However, if he refuses to assent to it, it then goes back to parliament, for another reading, where if passed by a two third majority, will automatically become law. The LGBT activists in Uganda have vowed to continue to protest the bill and have indicated that they will challenge the constitutionality of the Bill at the appropriate time.

Uganda currently boasts one of the most robust tourism industries in Africa. However the Ugandan anti-gay community would rather risk this than let go of the anti-gay bill. In the words of MP and author of the original Kill the Gays Bill, David Bahati, Ugandans would rather not have the business of the West, than have to put up with the “Western ideas of morality.”

In this case it would seem that the Ugandans are fully aware that passage of their bill will isolate them and have a huge impact on tourism. Many airlines and many hotels will simply not be able to operate in Uganda and tourists will probably choose other countries such as South Africa which has a fully inclusive Constitution, and perhaps magnificent Namibia and Botswana, which although left with draconian penal codes, do not actively arrest gay people.


The 10 Worst Lies Spread in Uganda about Gays

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by Anti-Gay Evangelical Christians and those falling for their hate, leading to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and its current passage through the Ugandan Parliament By Melanie Nathan, Dec 23, 2013. The 10 Worst Lies Spread about Gays* Gays are pedophiles Gays recruit children – “they are coming for your kids” It is possible to make someone […]

Defiant Ugandan LGBTI Community Vows to Fight The Anti-Gay Laws

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“Finally we want to assure you that despite this setback we are not broken AND never will… We refuse to be marginalized!” By Cathy Kristofferson, December 23, 2013 Following the passage through Parliament of The Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the LGBT community held a Press Conference today, which was reported here on OBLOGDEE, earlier. Here is the Ugandan Coalition’s […]

Courageous Ugandan LGBT Community Holds First Press Conference Since the Passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill

by on December 23, 2013

By Melanie Nathan. December 23, 2013. Amidst years of controversy, the Ugandan Parliament passed the Anti-Homosexuality Bill last week. Today the LGBTI community of Uganda raised its rainbow flag with pride, as it held its first post- AHB- passage press conference in Kampala. The hope is that the Ugandan media would listen to the statements […]

Watch Uganda Vote for its New Hate Gay Bill

by on December 21, 2013

The Bill once dubbed “Kill the Gays Bill” should now be termed Uganda’s Hate-Gay Bill. By Melanie Nathan, Dec 21, 2013. Yesterday we reported that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill had been passed in Uganda.  While we believe the death penalty has been removed, we assert that its provision for life in prison is equally barbaric and […]

17 thoughts on “Richard Branson Calls for Boycotts to Uganda if Anti-Homosexuality Bill is Law

    1. The bill was passed by an out of touch executive whose average age is 54 not by referendum. Imagine if the parliament was made up of people below 35, would that bill even show up?

      Only goes to show your ignorance about Africa and the way states there in are run. Encourage the boycotts. It is the wealthy executive that get hurt, right? clap clap clap…

      I guess this is the western way of doing things. A muslim carries out a terror attack and you grind all muslims men, women and children alike from any muslim country he is suspected to have come from. You have no way of separating issues.

      When Mugabe went against the west, all governments went on the boycott, shamelessly even the non government and aid agencies. result: hundreds of Zimbabweans died, some fled the country and got burned in xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Mugabe is still alive. smile Derek 🙂

      Now a bill passed by 0.001% of the population and you decide to punish all the 35million gays included. hehehehe Ignorance

      Brilliant. Encourage the boycotts. take your companies away. This government will go and We shall rebuild this country on our own. We are better off without a profit driven private sector that thinks it is doing us a favor to do business in our country.

      1. What you fail to realize is 2 things:

        1. The lawmakers represent the country. They have been voted in to make laws for millions of people. Hence they are not only the .001% you tout. They represnet the entire country. It is said that 80% of the lawmakers – MP’s favor the AHB – do the math- as representatives they then REPRESENT a very large portion of the population. Do you give no credence to government. If the Bill completes the process it will be law as made by these lawmakers. Sheez Arigye this is basic stuff and you dont get it? That said if their bad law making causes boycotts and the country suffers as a result, maybe people will reconsider who they vote for, maybe more will show up to vote, and maybe the law will get turned around. This has been going on since 2009 and the people of uganda have had ample opportunity to protest these laws. Hell, its been in the international and Ugandan press enough for people to speak out. Let me know when you notice anyone more than a handful with the balls and guts to speak out about it. Why have they not formed alliances with the brave kuchus? Your argument against boycotts does not pass GO!!! And we will niot recommend the cutting of AID to people… only tourist and business boycotts.

  1. Let’s not get carried away and put all this in perspective. Singapore has strict anti-homosexuality laws… yet they are an advanced economy doing business with megacorporations.
    Shall we please have a clear vantage point??

    1. Excuse me -UG law says you have to report a “known” gay or you will go to prison. HENCE witch hunts, political repression etc.! Does Singapore have a law that requires you report a son, a daughter, a patient, a student, an employee within 24 hours of finding out they are gay or face 3 years in prison???? If you cannot boycot on principle you will be compelled to withdraw business for fear your employees will be blackmailed or arrested. Singapore does NOT have such a law, and nor does any country I know…correct me if I am wrong.

    2. Hello Paul the Subsaharan,

      How effective is the anti-homosexuals laws in Singapore? How old is the gay law in Singapore? How many people had been killed in Singapore because they are gay?What is the nature of the Singapore gay law?

  2. FYI from Wiki: for those not aware: IT IS Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate and investor. He is best known as the founder of Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.[3]

    Branson is the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom, according to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of US$4.6 billion.[1]

  3. My respect & admiration for Mr. Branson has just moved up many notches!

    Finally- a man who has the courage of his convictions & stands up to voice disapproval at the travesty in Uganda.

    I’m interested his stance on Putin & his band of gov’t thugs? Hope not to find he makes exceptions for those he already profits in business with.

  4. What is ridiculous is the way the West expects us to believe in their opinions and respect them without granting us the same courtesy. We in Uganda do not support homosexuality in Uganda and for the West not to respect our views is downright disrespectful, in fact it is neo colonialism. The fact that the West has lost its moral values does not mean that Africans should follow suit and also disregard theirs. We do not support homosexuality and we stand by our belief. We never impose our views on the West and so the Wests views should not be imposed on us.

    1. SO if your argument is correct, then slavery is acceptable as long as a majority believes it acceptable? So a country could then be okay as long its majority believed that for eg. slavery is acceptable; Nazi extermination of Jews, Genocide, apartheid – it is all acceptable because a majority in a country people believe its acceptable? You see homosexuality has nothing to do with morality – its is a human sexuality on a spectrum that is far wider than merely heterosexuality. Must the West accept the ignorance? In fact the hate against gays was brought to Uganda by American Evangelicals and the Penal codes against gays was brought to Uganda by the Colonialists. Now that all said – I am happy to report that the new law, despite the popularity amongst Ugandans, is actually unconstitutional and you will find that when the time comes, the Ugandans will see that the Courts will strike it down. So in essence even your own Constitution will speak for the minority it seeks to protect. As a citizen you should be grateful for that, because without a powerful Constution you could be the next victim of prejudice.

      1. Agreed Melanie, even a minority of just one person has Equal Protection.

        To extrapolate a little further your argument: in the USA, African Americans constitute just 14% of the overall population. Clearly this doesn’t mean they’re entitled to only 14% of the protection afforded by the state to the 86% white majority.

        If majority opinion were to have held sway when anti-miscegenation laws were overturned in 1967, then blacks would still not have the right to marry a white person person they loved, and vice versa.

        I agree with you that homosexuality isn’t a “moral value” any more than having brown eyes, or being left handed are “values”.

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