News / Africa

Rights Group: US Should Pull Ambassador Over Uganda Anti-Gay Bill

Kenyan gays, lesbians and others supporting their cause, wear masks to preserve their anonymity as they stage a protest against Uganda's increasingly tough stance against homosexuality, outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 10, 2014.
Kenyan gays, lesbians and others supporting their cause, wear masks to preserve their anonymity as they stage a protest against Uganda's increasingly tough stance against homosexuality, outside the Uganda High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 10, 2014.
Human Rights Watch has called on the United States to recall its ambassador to Uganda if an anti-homosexuality bill is signed into law. The group says the U.S. should send a strong signal to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who vowed last week to sign the bill.  

“I don’t think the U.S. statement so far has been strong enough," said Leslie Lefkow, deputy director for Human Rights Watch's Africa Division. "While donors have voiced concerns, I’m not sure that that has actually translated into a really serious understanding in Uganda of the impact of the bill and what that will mean for relationships. We think that it’s very important that the U.S. and others send a very strong message that there will be consequences for signing this law.”

The bill, passed by the Ugandan parliament in December, could result in homosexuals being jailed for life. It also would outlaw “promotion” of homosexuality, as well as failure to report a gay person to the police.

There was no immediate response from the Obama administration to the HRW statement.

U.S. President Barack Obama said this week, however, that he was "deeply disappointed" in the Ugandan leader's plans to move forward with the anti-gay bill, adding it would complicate relations between Washington and Kampala.

"We believe that people everywhere should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love," Obama said in a statement.

The Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity has described donor criticism of the bill as “blackmail”, saying aid should not be linked to the behavior of another country.

Lefkow argues that the law could directly impact donor-funded activities, though, making it harder for civil society and health care programs to operate. She said major donors like the United States have the responsibility to review these programs, clearly state what effect the new law would have, and assure that their money is not used to persecute people.

“We’re not calling for development aid to be cut, but we are calling for a review of the different ways that this law, if it’s signed, could impact on assistance in Uganda," she said. "For example, the U.S. provides a lot of assistance for health programing in Uganda, for HIV/AIDS programing, and the law could have very detrimental impacts on groups who are trying to work to improve health in Uganda.”

Ugandan human rights groups are preparing to challenge the bill in court if it is signed, arguing that it is unconstitutional.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid