WASHINGTON, DC — More than 445,000 people have joined an urgent campaign on Change.org calling on Citibank and Barclays to publicly condemn legislation in Uganda that would criminalize homosexuality with life in prison and possible death sentences. Known as the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," the legislation could be passed by Uganda's Parliament any day now, and would institute some of the harshest criminal penalties in the world for gay people.
Citibank and Barclays have heavily invested in Uganda. According to 2010 financial reports, Citibank has almost $300 million in assets invested in Uganda and is a major leader in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce based in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. Barclays, Uganda's third largest bank, has more than 1,000 employees and 51 branches throughout the country.
Collin Burton, a gay Citibank customer from Washington, D.C., said he launched the campaign on Change.org because he does not want his money to support a government that could potentially execute people for being gay.
"As world banks and heavy players in Uganda, Citibank and Barclays have a unique responsibility to speak out and help stop this dangerous legislation before it becomes law," said Citibank customer Collin Burton, who launched his campaign on Change.org . "Now, perhaps more than ever before, we need the international business community to step up and lead by the corporate values they tout on their websites. Human lives are counting on it."
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda could allow gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Ugandans to be potentially killed or sentenced to life in prison solely because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. In recent weeks, there has been a renewed push by Ugandan politicians to pass the bill, with the speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, saying that passing the violent bill would be a "Christmas gift" from Uganda to the world.
"If you look at comments left by the more than 445,000 people who have signed my petition, it's clear that what the world really wants for Christmas is for Citibank and Barclays to take corporate responsibility and their commitment to the LGBT community seriously. In doing so, they could save the lives of countless Ugandans," Burton added.
In the U.S. and U.K. respectively, Citibank and Barclays have been strong supporters of LGBT rights. Both companies have LGBT-specific non-discrimination and harassment policies, both offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners, and both have resource groups to help their LGBT employees. Citibank has a 100% rating from the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index, and Barclays ranks third in the Stonewall Corporate Equality Index benchmark.
"Many people have launched and won Change.org petitons urging corporations to stand with their customers, and Collin's campaign is the most recent example of such people power," said Change.org Senior Campaigner Mark Anthony Dingbaum. "Collin has mobilized more than 445,000 people, including many Citibank and Barclays customers, to take action. How many signatures it will take for the international business community to respond?"
Live signature totals from Collin Burton's campaign: