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Former world champion says no invites should be sent to backers of controversial legislation

Former world champion cyclist Graeme Obree is calling on the organisers of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer not to invite to the event politicians who voted for Uganda’s controversial anti-gay legislation, which came into law last month.

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 was approved by the East African country’s parliament last December, and passed into law by President Yoweri Museveni on 24 February.

He signed the legislation after taking advice from government scientists who convinced him that people are not born gay, but rather become gay as a matter of choice.

"I was regarding it as an inborn problem," he told CNN last month. "Genetic distortion – that was my argument. But now our scientists have knocked this one out," he claimed.

The original bill proposed the death penalty for homosexuals, although the law now on the statute books has replaced that with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

In a petition posted to the website AVAAZ.org and addressed the Glasgow 2014 organising committee’s chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, Obree, who revealed he is gay three years ago, says:

We call on you to ensure that Ugandan politicians who backed the anti-gay bill are not invited to the 2014 Commonwealth games. This hateful law has shocked people across the world and those who support it are not welcome in the VIP boxes of this country.

On the petition’s page, Obree explains why he believes it is important that people sign it:

Life for gay people in Uganda is downright scary. Hate lists with names and faces of gay people are on the front page of newspapers, they’re being beaten while they go to the shop, stalked in the streets in broad daylight, and even killed. And now the new anti-gay bill just passed is set to make it much, much worse.

I was a professional cyclist who was always honoured to represent my country. This summer Glasgow will proudly host the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Ministers and presidents from around the world will pour into Scotland to watch their teams in action. Let's make this games not only an event which rightly celebrates the sacrifice, skills and supreme efforts of the athletes and representing nations, but one where we take a stand against those who stir up hate.

In days, Lord Smith and the organising committee of the 2014 games will begin inviting dignitaries. Let's call on them to make sure that Ugandan politicians who backed this bill are off that list, and tell them they are not welcome in the VIP boxes of our country.

Sign now and share this with everyone – let's let Lord Smith and his organising committee know that Uganda’s decision to pass this bill has appalled right-minded people around the world.

Obree’s own struggle to come to terms with his homosexuality contributed to the depression from which he suffered and which twice led him to attempt to take his own life.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

25 comments

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Signed - no room for people of this type in the Commonwealth Games OR the Olympics - particularly as VIPs

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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Absolutely, we welcome the athletes, not the dess pots and those who not only ignore, but set laws contrary to international conventions.

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Angelfishsolo [132 posts] 2 years ago
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Signed and shared.  14

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drfabulous0 [409 posts] 2 years ago
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Much as I oppose Uganda's ridiculous policies sport is supposed to be about coming together and politics should be kept out of it.

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jova54 [653 posts] 2 years ago
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Signed and shared

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andyp [1448 posts] 2 years ago
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'Much as I oppose Uganda's ridiculous policies sport is supposed to be about coming together and politics should be kept out of it'

Agreed. Which is why I've signed.

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southseabythesea [148 posts] 2 years ago
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drfabulous0 wrote:

Much as I oppose Uganda's ridiculous policies sport is supposed to be about coming together and politics should be kept out of it.

Exactly, invite the athletes but not the VIPs.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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Well OK Graeme has per4sonal reasons for his campaign. But i just can't help thinking that expecting developing countries which have a an income per head of $558 per year to somehow be as socially advanced as Britain income per capita $38,000 is asking a bit much really.

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Scotland in 1980. ie privacy restrictions were still applied. It was only put on a par with heterosexual activity in the whole of the UK in February 2009.

So you are basically asking a poor African country to live up to standards and attitudes that have only been recently accepted (and not by all by any means) in one of the richest best educated, socially liberal and advanced countries in the world.

Or we won't play with them.

I really don't think this is the way to go. Especially since a lot of commonwealth countries are by no means liberal and still have penal laws on the matter.

Once you start with this sort of thing however well meaning you will just end up with pretty much western liberal countries at the games.

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farrell [1950 posts] 2 years ago
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oozaveared wrote:

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Scotland in 1980. ie privacy restrictions were still applied. It was only put on a par with heterosexual activity in the whole of the UK in February 2009.

I'm fairly certain that Scotland would not have imprisoned someone for life or issued the death penalty for someone being gay in 1980 so you are comparing apples and oranges.

The people of Uganda will be more than welcome to come and play, but those people who work as part of a government that is pumping out toxic anti-gay propaganda, inventing malicious "scientific proof" regarding homosexuality and encouraging the victimisation and brutalisation of other human beings on their sexuality (or even suspected sexuality in some cases) have absolutely no right to be pampered and given luxury VIP treatment.

If keeping the Ugandan government away is a way of making them realise that their disgusting policies are wrong and will not be tolerated then I support it.

I'm also wary of your comment of "Well OK Graeme has personal reasons for his campaign", I'm not comfortable with that at all.

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oozaveared [937 posts] 2 years ago
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farrell wrote:
oozaveared wrote:

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Scotland in 1980. ie privacy restrictions were still applied. It was only put on a par with heterosexual activity in the whole of the UK in February 2009.

I'm fairly certain that Scotland would not have imprisoned someone for life or issued the death penalty for someone being gay in 1980 so you are comparing apples and oranges.

The people of Uganda will be more than welcome to come and play, but those people who work as part of a government that is pumping out toxic anti-gay propaganda, inventing malicious "scientific proof" regarding homosexuality and encouraging the victimisation and brutalisation of other human beings on their sexuality (or even suspected sexuality in some cases) have absolutely no right to be pampered and given luxury VIP treatment.

If keeping the Ugandan government away is a way of making them realise that their disgusting policies are wrong and will not be tolerated then I support it.

I'm also wary of your comment of "Well OK Graeme has personal reasons for his campaign", I'm not comfortable with that at all.

broadly I am just saying that some of you are expecting social attitudes in a very poor developing pre-industrial country where only 6% of the population live in towns. Where only 16% of people get any secondary education (beyond 10). Where only 76% of adults have any literacy skills, to miraculously be similar to those in an advanced liberal democracy.

Why would you think that was even possible. I know there is a tendency to say things about run down areas in Britain such as they are 3rd world but that just shows a distinct lack of imagination and appreciation. And why would you think that politicians are always leading social change? That somehow all the people in Uganda are right on liberals and only the elites are backward.

Anyone that has worked in developing countries realises that it is often the elites that are far more educated and socially liberal than the general population and very often their policies are aimed at appeasing very illiberal sentiment in the populous. It may in fact be the case that the athletes attending (the ones you don't mind attending) are the really homophobic ones.

Maybe a little less condemnation of those in developing countries without our advantages of literacy and wealth and social development wouldn't go amiss. In 1861 Britain was a thoroughly industrialised country far far wealthier than Uganda is even now. Two men were hanged for being gay in England in 1861.

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Big Softy [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Signed.

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Beefy [376 posts] 2 years ago
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Do the athletes make the laws? Should England be boycotted as the government allow people to live in food/fuel poverty? I suspect the athletes love there country and are proud of there heritage, it doesn't mean they are homophobic because the law makers are. Some might be gay but afraid to come out, why punish them further by not allowing them to compete.

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 2 years ago
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Beefy wrote:

Do the athletes make the laws? Should England be boycotted as the government allow people to live in food/fuel poverty? I suspect the athletes love there country and are proud of there heritage, it doesn't mean they are homophobic because the law makers are. Some might be gay but afraid to come out, why punish them further by not allowing them to compete.

What the heck is your point? The petition has nothing to do with whether the athletes are welcome - go back and re-read - it is specifically about VIP invitiations to dignitaries

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Beefy [376 posts] 2 years ago
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Sorry didn't get my point across at all well, I'm trying to make the point that once you bring politics in to sport it's a slippery slope to boycotts ect. I think the regime is a disgrace but once you let that enter sport the only people who ever seem to suffer is the athlete. I know a boycott is not on the cards but these things escalate. First you don't let VIP's come then the regime retaliates and it all spirals out of control. Hope that's a little clearer. I just don't think sport and politics mix there are so many countries with dreadful human rights were do we stop in our policing of the world via sport.

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Beefy [376 posts] 2 years ago
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Sorry didn't get my point across at all well, I'm trying to make the point that once you bring politics in to sport it's a slippery slope to boycotts ect. I think the regime is a disgrace but once you let that enter sport the only people who ever seem to suffer is the athlete. I know a boycott is not on the cards but these things escalate. First you don't let VIP's come then the regime retaliates and it all spirals out of control. Hope that's a little clearer. I just don't think sport and politics mix there are so many countries with dreadful human rights were do we stop in our policing of the world via sport.

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MKultra [396 posts] 2 years ago
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I say let them attend and "accidentally" arrange for large amounts of the people they have to interact with to be gay. Jesse Owens did not stick it to Adolf by boycotting the Olympics. Banning them is only feeding their warped view, they will rant and rave that it's a "gay plot". Let them come, force them to watch, let them get a shit on if they suddenly realize gays are watching the games with them and also competing. Letting the idiots have come to the games only serves to make them more liberal, they can't avoid it as they have to play nice to fit in. If they stay at home they stay in the warped little bubble hate.

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bradtipp [11 posts] 2 years ago
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Sport is political - everything is. It is only in countries like the UK and US where we try to pretend it isn't...and that is because in those places sport is business...

Either sign or don't sign - you'll be making a political statement either way  1

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AWPeleton [3310 posts] 2 years ago
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Whatever their reasoning behind these laws its backed massively by the population of Uganda as recently demonstrated on both Sky news and the BBC reports.

Personally i think its wrong whats happened in Uganda but by bringing into the spotlight at what should be a time of celebration ie the Commonwealth Games, is not my idea of the way to go about it.

By all means set up petitions and demonstrations but dont let it spoil what is a great spectacle.

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Him Up North [235 posts] 2 years ago
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Just throwing this out there:

This web page - http://76crimes.com/76-countries-where-homosexuality-is-illegal/ - gives a list of 83 countries with anti-homosexuality laws on the books. There are quite a few Commonwealth members among them, not just Uganda.

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jova54 [653 posts] 2 years ago
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stumps wrote:

Whatever their reasoning behind these laws its backed massively by the population of Uganda as recently demonstrated on both Sky news and the BBC reports.

Personally i think its wrong whats happened in Uganda but by bringing into the spotlight at what should be a time of celebration ie the Commonwealth Games, is not my idea of the way to go about it.

By all means set up petitions and demonstrations but dont let it spoil what is a great spectacle.

What better time to raise the issue of human and gay rights than when the world is watching?

If you don't turn the spotlight on unacceptable legislation in these sorts of gatherings when are you going to?

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Flying Scot [918 posts] 2 years ago
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Him Up North wrote:

Just throwing this out there:

This web page - http://76crimes.com/76-countries-where-homosexuality-is-illegal/ - gives a list of 83 countries with anti-homosexuality laws on the books. There are quite a few Commonwealth members among them, not just Uganda.

aye, but most are old laws, they just haven't changed yet, Uganda are passing new ones!

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DrStephens [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Him Up North wrote:

Just throwing this out there:

This web page - http://76crimes.com/76-countries-where-homosexuality-is-illegal/ - gives a list of 83 countries with anti-homosexuality laws on the books. There are quite a few Commonwealth members among them, not just Uganda.

stats like this make me very sad  2

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DrStephens [6 posts] 2 years ago
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Him Up North wrote:

Just throwing this out there:

This web page - - gives a list of 83 countries with anti-homosexuality laws on the books. There are quite a few Commonwealth members among them, not just Uganda.

stats like this make me very sad  2

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NIrish [20 posts] 2 years ago
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As much as this comment will ring true of others above I will proceed.

Sport is not about politics and is about engaging, I think this in light of Sochi is the wrong approach. We are very good in the West telling people wjat to do. As people have stated above it has taken time for us as a civilised modern society to get rid of discrimination be it gender, racism etc.

Why not tout our culture of being open to everyone and the sporting excellence coming to our shores than lambast others for inadequacies of their leadership.

Not signing/no need to share

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andyp [1448 posts] 2 years ago
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Politics and sport. Ho hum. As before, I've signed it. And yet...

the whole premise of these games are to celebrate the countries that 'we' lay spurious claim to from previous invasions and many 'justified' deaths.

The same inadequacies of *our* leadership that means that we have an unelected head of state, but can happily go and start a war to remove someone else's unelected head of state.
It's all a bit crap when you think about it. Imagine Germany starting the 'Lebensraum Games'?

Still. That's high-level stuff. If we can make a stand about prejudice it all helps.  2