Nobel Laureates, including Desmond Tutu, call for global LGBT equality

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Four Nobel Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi, have released a joint statement decrying violence against LGBT people, and calling on people around the world to support gay rights.

Their statement comes as Simon Lokodo, Uganda’s Minister of Ethics and Integrity, announced a ban on 38 human rights organisations that allegedly ‘promote homosexuality,’ thereby ‘threatening the traditions and values of the country.’ Just two days earlier, a gay rights workshop in the capital Kampala was brought to an abrupt halt by local police officers.

Today, the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights released a statement with Sexual Minorities Uganda, undersigned by Archbishop Tutu, Professor Jody Williams, Dr Shirin Ebadi, and Professor Muhammad Yunus, which reads:

As a global community of individuals dedicated to a more peaceful and just world, we wish to express our grave concern as to how our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) brothers and sisters are being treated across the globe.

Collectively we represent a diverse array of countries and cultures. Today more than ever, we wish to express that the same cultural values, which have fostered and supported our lifelong quests for peace, also command us to speak out against the violence and discrimination our fellow human beings are enduring every day solely because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex.

By expressing our solidarity with LGBTI people around the world, we recognize the inherent dignity and human rights of all individuals, without prejudice or intolerance, and we take an important step forward in our collective journey toward peace.

Local gay rights activist in Uganda have welcomed the statement, singling out Archbishop Tutu for his ‘moral courage.’

Mr Lokodo joined calls last week to hasten the passage of Uganda’s much-criticised anti-homosexuality bill, which proposes the death penalty for what it calls ‘aggravated homosexuality,’ and imprisonment for those who fail to spy and report LGBT citizens.