POLITICS

Obama: Uganda Anti-Gay Bill Would Mark Step Backward

02/16/2014 02:20 pm ET | Updated Feb 17, 2014

BY DARLENE SUPERVILLE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) — President Barack Obama says pending steps by Uganda to further criminalize homosexuality will complicate what he is describing as America's valued relationship with the East African nation.

In a written statement, Obama says legislation that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he will sign will mark a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on the country's commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. Obama says it also will mark a serious setback for everyone who is committed to freedom, justice and equal rights.

The legislation prescribes life imprisonment for some homosexual acts in Uganda, where homosexuality already is illegal.

The measure has alarmed rights activists but enjoys wide support among Christian clerics and lawmakers who say it's needed to deter Western homosexuals from recruiting Ugandan children.

Read Obama's full statement below:

As a country and a people, the United States has consistently stood for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. 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.

That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.

As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda. At a time when, tragically, we are seeing an increase in reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria, I salute all those in Uganda and around the world who remain committed to respecting the human rights and fundamental human dignity of all persons.

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