John M. Becker

Uganda Reactions: White House, State Department, UK

Filed By John M. Becker | February 24, 2014 8:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Anti-Homosexuality Bill, Jay Carney, John Kerry, Uganda, William Hague, Yoweri Museveni

shame-on-uganda.jpgIn a statement issued today, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Uganda's draconian new Anti-Homosexuality Law a tragedy and said it would cause the United States to review its foreign aid commitments to the country.

Here's his statement in full:

This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights. Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law.

The United States is deeply disappointed in the enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. For the four years since the bill was introduced, we have been crystal clear that it blatantly violates human rights obligations that Uganda's Human Rights Commission itself has recognized are enshrined in Uganda's Constitution

Today's signing threatens a dangerous slide backward in Uganda's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and a serious threat to the LGBT community in Uganda.
We are also deeply concerned about the law's potential to set back public health efforts in Uganda, including those to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective.

As President Obama stated, this legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship. Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.

From Nigeria to Russia and Uganda, we are working globally to promote and protect the human rights of all persons. The United States will continue to stand against any efforts to marginalize, criminalize, and penalize vulnerable persons in any society.

The Human Rights Campaign today called on Kerry to temporarily recall the U.S. ambassador to Uganda to protest the law.

Statements from the White House Press Secretary and the British Foreign Secretary are after the jump.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney:

Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President Museveni took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality. As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda, it reflects poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the Ugandan government to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

I am deeply saddened and disappointed that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda has been signed into law. The UK strongly opposes all discrimination on any grounds. We question the Bill's compatibility with Uganda's constitution and international treaty obligations. There can be no doubt that this Bill will increase persecution and discrimination of Ugandans, as well as damage Uganda's reputation internationally.

We ask the Government of Uganda to protect all its citizens and encourage tolerance, equality and respect. We will continue to press the Government of Uganda to defend human rights for all, without discrimination on any grounds.

But sadly, as ThinkProgress notes, the tough talk from the U.S. may wind up being a whole lot of hot air.

Janet Lewis, a researcher on security in sub-Saharan Africa and Uganda in particular, told ThinkProgress that the law puts the Obama administration in "a really difficult place." The last few years have seen the development of a strong military alliance between the U.S. and Uganda, Lewis noted, particularly in helping fund and train the Ugandan military. That training and professionalization has been put to good use in neighboring Somalia, where Uganda is taking part in the African Union mission to defeat terrorist group al-Shabaab, a goal of both Obama and Museveni.

"It's pretty difficult to say -- I don't really know if it's realistic to say that the U.S. is going to be able to roll back any of that military training," Lewis said. "I suspect that [the U.S.] will condemn the anti-gay bill, but Uganda is one of many countries in Africa now with anti-gay legislation on the books now," she continued. "But the U.S. needs African allies to help manage security issues on the continent, so probably the Ugandan government recognizes that."

Time will tell. Watch this space.

Image via Canyonwalker Connections.

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