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Uganda tourism board: gays are welcome

Uganda tourism board: gays are welcome

Ugandan tourism officials have said the African country still welcomes gay tourists despite repeated attempts to pass an anti-gay law.

The Ugandan Tourism Board (UTB) recently met with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) to try to restore the country’s reputation among both gay and straight tourists.

John Tanzella, president and CEO of IGLTA, told the SoSoGay website that the board felt Western media had portrayed Uganda in a particularly negative light since the country passed a law that would punish gay sex with life imprisonment in December last year.

The law was struck down last month.

Tanzella said, ‘The delegation said that gay people are welcome.

‘They were very concerned about the perception of Uganda in Western Europe and North America, and claimed that the backlash caught them by surprise.

‘No-one thought it would pass. The delegates all pointed out that they have friends and family who are gay.’

He said Uganda was a long way off from joining IGLTA and first would have to go through a ‘process of education.’

In a statement released in March the UTB said, ‘The controversy currently surrounding the Anti Homosexuality Act 2014 is exaggerated.

‘No gay person will be killed in Uganda.

‘The law was based on the majority support for it in the Parliament of Uganda and the majority ordinary Ugandans whose cultural and religious beliefs are not agreeable to some habits such as homosexuality. 

‘However, Uganda is a very hospitable, friendly, warm and loving country of diverse culture, religion and beliefs which welcomes all visitors of all backgrounds regardless of their sexual orientation, beliefs and skin color.’

Tourism contributed 4.9 trillion Ugandan shillings (US$1.88 billion) to the economy in the financial year 2012-13.