Anti-gay Ugandan politician set to become new UN parliament head

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An anti-gay Ugandan politician is set to become the next head of the United Nations General Assembly, causing outrage among rights groups.

Sam Kutesa serves as Ugandan Foreign Minister under President Museveni, who recently introduced a strict anti-gay law in the country, with heavy punishments for offenders.

Kutesa, who previously claimed that the majority of Africans “abhor” homosexuality, will become President of the General Assembly next month without a single vote cast, having been selected by the African Union in a traditionally unchallenged appointment.

The annually rotated position is “elected by acclamation”, with incumbent John William Ashe selected last year by the UN’s Latin American and Caribbean Group.

In his new role, which he will begin on June 11, Kutesa will chair all meetings of the UN’s general assembly, and play host to world leaders.

Rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called on the government to act, telling the Guardian: “David Cameron and William Hague should be lobbying the UN to block Kutesa’s appointment on the grounds that his political record is inconsistent with UN principles.”

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand added: “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 UN general assembly.

Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch, said: “There are real concerns about Sam Kutesa’s commitment to the values embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including his defence of Uganda’s profoundly discriminatory anti-homosexuality law.”

Kutesa visited the UK earlier this month alongside President Museveni, and met with senior UK Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Mark Simmonds.