Incoming US Ambassador to Uganda Pledges to Support Sexual and Gender Minorities

Incoming US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac
Incoming US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac

Former US Ambassador to Uganda Scott H Delisi did not shy away from his stand on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) issues in the country; and with his term of office having ended and a new envoy set to assume office, questions have been raised on what the latter’s viewpoint will be.

Will they be as supportive as Hon. Delisi or will they turn a blind eye to the reality of discrimination and homophobia in Uganda? In a preliminary hearing to assess the nominee to take over the office of the US ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac, the US Senate seemed to have the same issue on top of their questionnaire as Delaware Senator Chris Coons posed the issue of the LGBTI problem in Uganda.

“Let me, if I might, also ask you ambassador about the LGBT community in Uganda and the shrinking space in which they have had to operate in the last couple years and the real challenges we face in trying to respect their security and privacy and liberty while still advocating for them. I had a very memorable meeting a number of years ago in which I was asked not to be a more vocal advocate because of the consequences for those who were known to have met with a senator or anyone else from our government. How do you fight for space when the political environment around it is not supportive?” Senator Coons queried.

“Thank you. That is a very difficult balance to strike. Particularly, as we are pushed on the part of the US government to ensure we advocate all over the world for the protection of human rights of all individuals to be free from discrimination, to be free from the threat of violence. It’s an issue and a value that we hold very dear and we must advocate in that arena, even in difficult environments like Uganda. It is often the case that sometimes we are further out ahead of some of the local groups or the individuals themselves so continuing the dialogue that we have. We work really closely with organizations and individuals in Uganda who are advocating for LGBT rights to ensure that we are calibrated appropriately and to continue to work with the government, to dialogue with the government of Uganda to ensure the space is open. It will be an ongoing process where we believe the legislation that was on the books previously is gone, but, of course, we will have to continue to watch vigilantly to ensure that we don’t turn the clock back,” Ambassador Malac shot back. Whether it was a calculated answer or a heartfelt response, all these questions remain to be answered when the new appointee finally assumes office.


U.S. Ambassador Deborah R. Malac is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, who has served with the Department of State since 1981.  President Barack Obama nominated Ms. Malac as U.S. Ambassador to Liberia on May 9, 2012, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 26.

Ms. Malac previously served as the Director of the Office of East African Affairs.

Prior to this position, she was the Director of the Mid-Level Division in the Office of Career Development and Assignments in the Bureau of Human Resources. Ms. Malac also previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Before moving to Addis, Ms. Malac was Deputy Director in the Office of East African Affairs; Deputy Director in the Office of Agricultural, Biotechnology and Textiles Trade Affairs and Political Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.  She has also served as a political officer in Bangkok, Thailand and Pretoria, South Africa; Desk Officer for South Africa and Laos; Officer-in-Charge of the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs; and as a consular/economic officer in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Ms. Malac holds a B.A. in International Studies (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) from Furman University (1977), a M.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia (1981), a M.S. in National Resources Strategy (Distinguished Graduate) from the National Defense University (2002), and spent a year studying International Law at the University of Basel on a post-graduate fellowship under the auspices of the Fulbright Foundation.

She speaks French, German and Thai.  Ms. Malac is married and has three children.

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