News / Africa

British University Drops Uganda Ties in Dispute Over Gay Rights

A British university has just dropped its connection with Uganda, citing the unacceptable limitations imposed by Uganda’s stance against homosexuality. Buckingham University had been accrediting courses at Victoria University in Kampala, but the British institution pulled out this week.

“Why fly to Europe when there are UK (United Kingdom) degrees next door?” reads an ad for Victoria University, a prestigious private university in Kampala, Uganda. But now the UK degrees are no more, since Victoria’s British partner, Buckingham University, announced this week that it would stop accrediting Victoria’s courses because of Uganda’s stance against gay rights.

Neither university was available for comment. But in a statement, Buckingham said they had become “increasingly concerned about the proposed legislation in Uganda on homosexuality and in particular the constraints on freedom of speech in this area.”

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda. But a bill currently before parliament would make the penalties even more stringent, criminalizing “promotion” of homosexuality and punishing certain acts with life in prison.

On its website, Victoria University states that “there are fundamental differences between the two nations’ respective laws regarding equality and diversity, which cannot be reconciled.”

200 Students Left in the Lurch

The move leaves around 200 students in the lurch. Victoria University, which opened one year ago, had claimed to offer a British standard of education. With annual tuition fees ranging from $3,500 to $7,000, it is one of the most expensive universities in the country.

But one prospective student, who had hoped to study communications, explains that the British affiliation made it worth the money.

“I wouldn’t say that we have bad universities, but then we are looking for more fields, greener pastures, better education. I was dealing with this hoping that afterwards I could apply for a course in the UK and get a better job back in the UK, not really here in Uganda. It would have made it easier,” the student said.

Victoria’s chancellor told journalists that the two institutions had disagreed about whether to include a clause in Victoria’s statute banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Victoria University refused to include the clause, claiming it had to comply with Ugandan law.

Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity, Simon Lokodo, says he supports Victoria for standing by its morals.

“I want to thank them for not accepting to be blackmailed and forced to adapt a culture that is not in their liking,” Lokodo said.

Lokodo adds that when foreigners bring their cultural expectations with them, such international relationships cannot work.

“And it will be true with anybody else who wants to attach friendship, or support to brothers and sisters, to imposition of culture, of norms, of prescriptions, that are not acceptable to the destination culture or community. It’s the same thing that I’m telling to my brothers and sisters from the donor community. It’s really blackmail if you say you are not going to support Ugandans because Ugandans are not comfortable with gays,” Lokodo said.

The majority of Ugandans may be uncomfortable with homosexuality. But Ugandan lawyer Denis Kusaasira says Victoria University is wrong to claim that tolerance or employment of gays is illegal.

“Just like it’s not an offence to employ a convict of any other offence, like theft or murder,” Kusaasira said.

Avoiding the issue

Most international companies, he says, prefer to simply avoid the issue of homosexuality, complying with the law without making any explicit statements one way or another.

“If the law is silent on it, and it’s not compelling international companies to have anti-gay policies in their employment manuals, companies, I think, would rather keep it internal which side they fall on, whether gay or anti-gay. Right now there is no policy on this,” Kusaasira said.

Kusaasira says even companies that support gay rights would find it hard to say so publicly for fear of alienating their clients. Victoria University may have misunderstood the law, he adds, but their stance was more likely to have been a business decision.

“Since their business project requires acceptance by the society, they may want to play with the majority of Ugandans, and come out openly and say ‘we don’t support gays.’ So if it comes to make a choice where to take your child, as a parent, you’d comfortably take them to Victoria University,” Kusaarira said.

It remains to be seen whether this decision will pay off. But in the meantime, Victoria has promised to offer the affected students other alternatives for completing their degrees, either in Uganda or abroad.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid