Release Date: February 12, 2010
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Internationally renowned human rights scholar and activist Makau W. Mutua, dean of the University at Buffalo Law School, will deliver public lectures on sexual orientation and human rights during a week-long trip to Africa. He will depart Saturday, Feb. 13, to travel to Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda. He will return to the U.S. on Saturday, Feb. 20.
A SUNY Distinguished Professor, Mutua said the lectures come at a critical time in the history of both African countries. "Kenya is rewriting its constitution and there is pressure to address gay rights," he explained. "In Uganda, a bill pending in parliament proposes to impose the death penalty on gays. President Obama has called the Ugandan bill 'odious' and Secretary of State Clintion has denounced it. Passions are high on both sides of the issue in both countries."
In Nairobi, Mutua's lecture will take place at the University of Nairobi and will be titled "Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: Putting Homophobia on Trial." It is being offered by Akiba Uhaki, a social justice organization. In Kampala, his lecture will take place at Makerere University and will be titled "Sexual Orientation and Human Rights: Interrogating Homophobia."
Mutua also will meet with individuals and organizations working to protect gay rights in both countries. His lectures are sponsored by the Ford Foundation.
Mutua is a member of the executive council and executive committee of the American Society of International Law, the most prestigious and largest organization of international lawyers in the world. An influential voice on the world stage, he has conducted numerous human rights, diplomatic and rule-of-law missions in Africa, Latin America and Europe. He is chairman of the Kenya Human Rights Commission in his native country and sits on the boards of several international organizations.
Previously, Mutua served as director of the Africa Project at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights and was associate director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School, from which he received a doctor of juridical science degree in 1987. A prolific writer, he is the author of "Human Rights: A Political and Cultural Critique"; "Kenya's Quest for Democracy: Taming Leviathan"; and "Human Rights NGOs in East Africa: Political and Normative Tensions." His writings also include scholarly articles, human rights reports for the United Nations and leading nongovernmental organizations, and articles for leading publications including the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Washington Post. His expertise and commentary on human rights has been cited by such prominent media as National Public Radio, the BBC and "News Hour with Jim Lehrer."
In addition to Harvard Law School, Mutua was educated at the University of Nairobi, Kenya; and the University of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania.
Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law School -- the State University of New York system's only law school -- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's premier public law schools.