The United Nations General Assembly named Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, a leading advocate of his country’s anti-homosexuality law, as its new president for the 2014-2015 session that begins in September.
Kutesa was the African Union’s uncontested candidate for the 12-month post. Regional groups take turns heading the UN’s main deliberative organ.
The former lawyer and politician defended Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s February enacting legislation that toughened punishments for gay sex to include life imprisonment for some homosexual acts. As Uganda’s top diplomat, Kutesa has responded to international condemnation of the law by saying that “the majority of Africans abhor this practice,” which is “wrong for our young people, and it offends our culture.”
While the president of the General Assembly serves a largely figurative role, Kutesa will preside over meetings that will decide the world’s post-2015 economic and social development agenda, as the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000 expire next year.
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