I understand the perspective of advocating an across the board boycott to induce economic hardship in a country that depends on money from exports as a means to send a strong “message” about this homophobic and hateful legislation. But not all trade in Uganda can be considered on the same plane. The economic reality in Uganda today is deeply rooted in a history of exploitative trade by multinational corporations. Fair Trade seeks to help support producers to overcome that history and in so doing, encourages community led development initiatives that promote education, health care, and access to better infrastructure. This type of bottom up growth and development positions communities to better respond to the kind of legislation we are seeing in Uganda today. Meanwhile, it should not go without mentioning that much of the support of this bill has been driven by organizations in the United States. It is not the Fair Trade farmers in Peace Kawomera that are the voices on this issue.
Our stance with respect to your suggestion of boycotting this coffee and cutting off this community that we have worked so closely with for five years is that we don’t believe that is the best way to combat the current anti-gay bill being discussed. In fact, we would even more emphatically support the critical work, message, and example that the Peace Kawomera Cooperative is setting. Each day these farmers choose tolerance as their way forward. The children of farmers are seeing that peace is a solution and a path to a brighter future. Supporting this Cooperative promotes the growth of a strong base of citizenship that can see beyond differences (whether that be based in cultural, ethnic, racial, gender or sexual preference diversity) and is successfully collaborating for real economic development.
Please consider the implications of what “direct action” in this case looks like. Going after a group laying the foundation for a more tolerant Uganda won’t solve the problem on the table. However, we encourage everyone to speak out against this proposed bill.
You can sign a petition here: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5712/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1309