LGBT activists in Riverdale and the rest of the city, along with a range of politicians, have lambasted Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera for recent comments apparently condoning the Ugandan government’s anti-LGBT policies.
“Godly people are in government,” Mr. Cabrera said in reference to Uganda, which has come under strong international criticism for persecuting homosexuals.
The comments, made during a January trip by Mr. Cabrera to the central African country, surfaced in a Crain’s New York Business blog post last week — days before the vote on the councilman’s Democratic primary challenge to Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera. In a roughly 30-minute interview taken down from YouTube after the story broke, Mr. Cabrera also praised the Ugandan government for resisting U.S. pressure to change its anti-LGBT policies. (You can still watch a clip from the interview that a blogger uploaded here.)
Following widespread criticism for his remarks, Mr. Cabrera issued a statement saying, “I do not support the persecution of gays and lesbians anywhere.” His campaign did not answer repeated interview requests for this article.
Uganda’s parliament made homosexuality illegal at the start of the year, although the country’s high court annulled the move in August. Homosexual acts are still illegal in the in Uganda, and LGBT people face harassment and regular infringements on their rights.
So far, Mr. Cabrera’s attempt at damage control has not swayed activists.
“These comments were outrageous on a number of levels. He was basically condoning what is happening in Africa to the LGBT community,” said Riverdalian Demetrius McCord, who is on the planning committee for the LGBT group Out Riverdale.
“It would be nice to see that he is definitely not reelected and someone is elected who is capable of representing all communities, and not just their own,” Mr. McCord said of Mr. Cabrera, who is also a minister.