Orange pledges to offer support for gay employees based in Uganda

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Orange telecoms has pledged to support any LGBT employees working in Uganda on the back of an anti-gay law passed last month in the country.

Earlier this week the company removed advertising from a homophobic newspaper in Uganda. Red Pepper is notorious for outing prominent Ugandans who it claims are gay.

The move came after more than 77,000 people signed an All Out online petition calling on Orange to stop advertising with the paper. It published a list of what it called “200 homos” – one day after President Yoweri Museveni signed a tough anti-gay bill into law last month.

The law calls for repeat offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in prison and makes it a criminal offence not to report someone for being gay.

The French telecoms giant has since said it supports its LGBT employees, and that it believes that diversity helps business.

“Orange is convinced that diversity is a force for social performance and economic performance, said Orange spokesperson Jean-Bernard Orsoni to All Out.

“Orange does not ask its employees about their sexual orientation because it is confidential information that isn’t part of any step of an employee’s life in the company, or in recruitment, promotion or any other decision concerning an employee. Orange does not collect this information, so it would not be possible to produce it and hand over to anyone.”

Orange also provides legal and security assistance to employees in crisis.

A network of LGBT campaigners in Uganda last week urged for several corporations, including Heneiken, KLM, British Airways and Barclays Bank to speak out against the law, as they all have trading links with the country.

“Orange are doing exactly the right thing by refusing to continue business as usual, and taking steps to protect their employees affected by the Anti-Homosexuality Act.” said Andre Banks, Executive Director and co-founder of All Out, an international organization building the global movement for gay rights. “Whether it’s Russia, Nigeria, or Uganda, global corporations should urgently follow their lead.”

“Other global corporations should be announcing they’re afraid to do business in a country where their employees might be jailed for being gay. Religious leaders in Uganda and around the world must speak up now. Countries with diplomatic ties to Uganda should be acting with the urgency of a life and death human rights crisis. Now is the time for action.”