During the 27th Conference of Speakers and Presiding Officers of the Commonwealth (CSPOC) held in Kampala, Uganda, several Speakers, including those from the United Kingdom, chose to boycott the event in protest against Uganda’s recently enacted Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.
The UK’s decision to abstain from the conference was confirmed by Speaker Anitah Among during the official opening ceremony. According to her, some Speakers who had initially confirmed their attendance chose not to participate due to concerns over Uganda’s anti-gay legislation. The legislation has been a subject of controversy and has faced international criticism for its strict measures against homosexuality.
During the closure of the CSPOC meeting, Speaker Among expressed gratitude towards the 50 foreign Speakers and Presiding Officers who defied calls for a boycott, emphasizing the importance of respecting Uganda’s values and traditions. She clarified that the country does not discriminate against attendees based on their sexual orientation but stands firm in upholding the laws it has passed.
The conference, which spanned four days, covered various crucial topics, including climate change, consensus-building in parliamentary systems with a focus on multiparty systems, health and wellbeing of parliamentarians, and security of parliamentary institutions.
Despite the absence of some speakers who chose to boycott the event, 33 out of the 43 initially confirmed Speakers attended the conference. Speaker Among commended those who attended for their bold decision to participate despite pressure from the international community.
In a final closed plenary session on Saturday morning, India was endorsed to host the 28th CSPOC meeting in 2026, succeeding Uganda.
The CSPOC, initiated in 1969, plays a vital role in bringing together Speakers and Presiding Officers of National Parliaments from sovereign Commonwealth nations.
The UK’s decision to boycott the conference highlights the ongoing global debate on human rights issues, particularly concerning LGBTQ+ rights. This move adds to the growing international pressure on Uganda to reconsider or amend its stance on the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023.