Coffee Industry Petition re: Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Parliament of Uganda

H. E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni,
President
Republic of Uganda

January 9, 2014

Your Excellency,

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.

Most Respectfully,

The Coffee Professionals and Below Signers of this Letter

    If you feel that this is an issue that is important to you and/or your coffee profession, please sign this petition.

    To sign this petition, please write your name, business and/or profession, and location below. Then press "Submit." While signing with complete information is highly encouraged, if for reasons of personal privacy or safety you would like to sign anonymously, please simply write name as "Anonymous," but please include your profession (not your company name) and your city/country. The responses to this petition will live online in public. Once signing is complete, the petition will be sent as a formal letter with a list of signatories to the President of Uganda and to various Ugandan diplomatic posts.
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