We are representatives of the coffee importing, roasting, retailing and consuming community inside and outside Uganda. We are individuals who are dedicated to the welfare of Uganda, and who have chosen to make our contribution through the marketing of Ugandan coffees.
This letter is a formal request that you refuse to assent to the anti-homosexuality law which Parliament recently passed. Further, we urge you and your fellow colleagues in Government to take leadership on repealing all existing laws that criminalise homosexuality and, as is keeping with Uganda’s many other human rights standards, work publicly to ensure the protection of rights for all individuals regardless of sexual orientation.
As we, the authors of this letter, work towards promoting the value and visibility of Ugandan coffee there are many factors which assist us, and only one major factor working against us.
Collectively, our enthusiasm to promote Ugandan coffee comes from the passion and entrepreneurial spirit of the many farmers with whom we work; the transparency and innovation of Ugandan coffee exporters, processors and of the Uganda Coffee Development Authority; the hospitality of the Ugandan people; and the ease of travel and trade which the Government of Uganda enables. The prominence of Uganda in the global coffee industry is evidenced by its major presence at events such as the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s (SCAA) annual expo, and inversely by the regular presence of major international coffee organisations (such as African Fine Coffees Association (AFCA) and Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) in Uganda. The global excitement over Ugandan coffee reflects its well-earned reputation.
Unfortunately, such honors are being overshadowed by the perception that Uganda is not treating all citizens equally before the law. As more coffee businesses and consumers learn of the anti-homosexuality bill passed in Parliament, their interest in Ugandan coffee decreases. We are finding it progressively more difficult to sell coffee with the Uganda name on it.
While we have been trying to convince our customers not to boycott Ugandan coffee – as we do not want to punish Ugandan farmers for a law which they likely had nothing to do with – we find ourselves increasingly bombarded by customers asking us to boycott these products and remove them from our offering sheets, retail shelves and cafe menus.
More worrisome still are the customers who choose not to contact us, and simply enact their own boycotts by discontinuing their Ugandan coffee purchases.
We appreciate your time and consideration of this letter and issue.
The Coffee Professionals and Below Signers of this Letter