Uganda’s Anti Gay law: Orange Telecom pulls advertising

From All Out*

red-pepperOrange, a subsidiary of France Télécom, announced its decision to pull their advertising from the website of Red Pepper on Friday, after 77,329 All Out members called on them to remove the advertisements and commit to protecting LGBT employees in Uganda. Red Pepper, a prominent tabloid, recently listed the names and, in some cases, photos and locations of LGBT people in Uganda — an action reminiscent of the 2009 outing of Ugandan activist David Kato in the (now defunct) tabloid Rolling Stone, who was murdered two days later.

“We commend Orange for their leadership in reaction to the Anti-Homosexuality Law” said Andre Banks, Executive Director and co-founder of All Out, an international organization building the global movement for gay rights. “Orange’s decision to withdraw their advertising and to explicitly support their LGBT employees should ring alarm bells for Ugandan politicians and business people about the impact this law could have on the national economy”.

All-Out-UGANDA-Infographic-v4-9Since the passing of Uganda’s notorious Anti Gay Law, mobs of vigilantes have been targeting known or suspected LGBT people.

Orange announced their decision to All Out via Twitter and email from Orange spokesperson Jean-Bernard Orsoni on March 7 stating:

“Orange Uganda is advertising in most newspapers and radio stations in the country. Red Pepper is one of those newspapers and represents only a small part of the advertising mix. By publishing an ad in a newspaper we do not endorse its editorial content and we obviously have no control over the editorial content of these publications. However, the contract with Red Pepper ended on March 6, 2014 and it will not be extended until further notice.

The Group also protects all employees in crisis situations, without discrimination and supports them everywhere in the world.”

The new Anti Gay Law recognises same-sex attraction as not ‘innate’ and subjects all gays and lesbians to a punishment of life imprisonment.  Anyone, including straight people, who houses or otherwise supports gays and lesbians to authorities could now face a fine or 5-7 years in prison under the new law.  Similarly, any national or international company or human rights organization in Uganda, which supports lesbian, gay, bi or trans people (including their own employees), could face 7 years jail and de-registration of the company. Unlike many other similar laws, this law explicitly calls out lesbians as well as gay men for punishment.

“It’s unconscionable that fair minded people around the world are staying silent while the Ugandan government declares war on its own lesbian, gay, bi and trans citizens, in full contradiction of its own Constitution and past reassurance to the international community,”  said Banks.

“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.”

Since 2011, when a version of the Ugandan anti-gay bill was introduced, hundreds of thousands of All Out members have spoken out against the bill, pushing several global leaders around the world to speak out publicly and through diplomatic channels while fueling the media firestorm started by organizations in Uganda. The bill was stalled in Uganda’s Parliament for three years until today. The Ugandan Parliament passed the bill on December 23, 2013 but there were reports — strengthened by a letter to Parliament from President Museveni — that it was not passed legally, due to the alleged absence of a quorum.

* In 77 countries, it is a crime to be gay; in 10 it can cost you your life. All Out is mobilizing millions of people and their social networks to build a powerful global movement for love and equality. 

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