Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s Minister For External Affairs, has announced that Scotland is willing to offer asylum to Ugandans persecuted under Uganda’s latest harsh anti-gay laws, Scottish newspaper The Herald reports.
Yousaf detailed Scotland’s commitment to Ugandans in a letter to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague. He urged the UK as a whole to offer help for persecuted Ugandans.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act into law earlier this week. The law makes gay marriage and “aggravated homosexuality” punishable with life in prison and criminalizes almost any other act related to homosexuality. It is regarded as the harshest anti-gay law in the world.
A number of gay Ugandans and gay-rights activists have been extrajudicially killed in Uganda. A number of others are committing (or attempting to commit) suicide. Local newspapers regularly print lists of suspected gay Ugandans, prompting attacks and violence. Rights activist David Kato was murdered in 2011 after being "outed" by one such tabloid.
The letter comes in advance of Ugandan officials attending the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasglow this summer. The Commonwealth Games invite 53 nation from around the world to compete in athletic competitions. Most of the nations were once territories of the former British Empire.
Same-sex relationships are criminalized in 41 of the 53 nations in the Commonwealth, according to the Kaleidoscope Trust, which monitors LGBT rights in the Commonwealth.
"No one from any part of the Commonwealth who visits Scotland will be under any doubt about our values as a welcoming, open and tolerant society," wrote Yousaf.
"The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda is a huge step back for equality and I have written to the UK government asking it to make the strongest possible representations to the government of Uganda.”
“I have also urged the UK foreign secretary to offer asylum to any Ugandans who suffer threat or persecution as a result of the legislation.”
Hague’s office has not responded to Yousaf’s letter but has previously urged the Ugandan government to put an end to LGBT discrimination.