US Says Anti-Gay Law Would Harm Uganda's Global Image

    State Department official talks with US gay and lesbian groups concerned with the legislation in Kampala

    US Says Anti-Gay Law Would Harm Uganda's Global Image
    US Says Anti-Gay Law Would Harm Uganda's Global Image

    The U.S. State Department's top Africa diplomat says approval by Uganda's parliament of a bill criminalizing homosexual activity would harm that country's world image and undercut the fight against HIV/AIDS. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson discussed the issue Friday with leaders of U.S. gay and lesbian groups concerned about the legislation pending in Kampala. 

    The Obama administration is stepping up its public efforts against what it describes as draconian legislation pending in the Ugandan parliament that would criminalize homosexual acts and make them, in some instances, punishable by death.

    Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson spoke to reporters after a meeting with about 25 leaders of U.S. gay and lesbian groups concerned about the legislation being considered by Ugandan legislators since October, and which has heavy support from conservative Muslim and Christian lawmakers there.

    Carson said he has spoken directly with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni twice about the pending bill, most recently early this month when the Ugandan leader transited the United States after attending the Commonwealth Summit in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The Assistant Secretary said he told Mr. Museveni, who has been prominent among African leaders in the battle against HIV/AIDS, that such legislation would undercut progress against that epidemic and undermine Uganda's global image. "We believe that this legislation is a violation of human rights, that it will undermine the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda, that it will stigmatize a community, and that ultimately it will harm and damage Uganda's human rights image and record. We believe this legislation is inappropriate, should be withdrawn and is not the kind of legislation that we wish to see in Uganda and for that matter any other place," he said.

    Carson said President Museveni, in contacts with U.S. officials, has distanced himself and his party from the legislation, and said he is concerned about its contents and implications.

    He noted that Mr. Museveni is empowered to veto legislation from parliament and said the United States is urging him to let his principles guide him and do everything he can to see it that it does not become law.

    Carson also said the United States has not threatened Uganda with aid cuts or other punitive steps despite its concern about the issue. "We're not making any threats at this point. We think that it is in Uganda's interest to do the right thing on this legislation. President Museveni and his foreign minister know our concerns about it. We hope that they will exercise leadership in insuring that this legislation is not passed," he said.

    The pending legislation in Uganda would toughen an existing and largely un-enforced law barring sex between people of the same gender. Homosexual sex with minors, or while infected with HIV, would draw the death penalty.

    Supporters of the measure in Uganda have dismissed outside criticism as a new form of colonialism.

    Raising its profile on the issue, the White House issued a statement opposing the draft law last week and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized it in a Washington speech on administration human rights policy on Monday.

    This forum has been closed.
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora