President Barack Obama has released a strongly-worded statement on the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. The bill punishes same-sex relations with life imprisonment and denies bail to those accused of "aggravated homosexuality."
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.
The President's statement comes at the same time aides to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have signaled that the bill will be signed into law. Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson, tweeted on Friday: "Pres Museveni has told NRM MPs he will assent the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law ... this comes after 14 medical experts presented a report that homosexuality is not genetic but a social behaviour".
Museveni initially objected to the bill on parliamentary procedures when it was forced through parliament in December. Museveni later said that he would only sign the bill if a panel of scientists proved that homosexuality was not genetic. The "esteemed" scientific panel apparently has concluded that sexual orientation is a "choice."
Same-sex relations are prohibited by more than 70 nations across the globe—and unfortunately Africa and the Middle East are the most oppressive regions. Same-sex acts are currently illegal in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. South Africa is the only African nation that mandates equal marriage.