During a speech on human rights at Georgetown University today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in opposition to the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. She said she has directly and indirectly expressed such opposition to the Ugandan government, and will continue to do so. Speaking more broadly on LGBT rights, the Secretary stated that LGBT rights are human rights, and that LGBT human rights are a top priority of the State Department.
This speech came on the heels of a Friday statement by the Obama Administration that “the President strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history.”
Similar sentiments have been expressed from both sides of the aisle in Congress. For example, Senator Coburn (R-OK), Senator Feingold (D-WI), Congresswoman Baldwin (D-WI) and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) have spoken out in opposition of the bill.
Moreover, Ugandan officials have begun to speak out against the bill. Last week, John Nagenda, Senior Presidential Advisor to the President of Uganda, wrote that the Ugandan Parliament should not pass the legislation. In addition, the Ugandan Media Centre, which is under the Office of the President of Uganda, posted an article by Obed K. Katureebe that said there was no need for the bill. The article said that “one wonder[s] whether [the Ugandan] parliament is utilizing its time optimally by focusing on homosexuality when the majority of people are suffering from hunger, lack of access to water and disease and collapsing infrastructure.”
Furthermore, last week under significant pressure from pro-LGBT religious, secular and political leaders, Rick Warren – one of the most powerful voices in the American religious community – finally condemned the bill becoming one of the many religious voices to do so.
Despite reports that the death penalty and life imprisonment will be stripped from the bill, the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, continues to promote the bill as introduced.
The Human Rights Campaign applauds those that have spoken out against the bill, and will continue to urge engagement by the Administration, the State Department and Congress.
UPDATE: Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today release the following statement on the Ugandan bill:
“I join many voices in the United States, Uganda and around the world in condemning Uganda’s draft legislation imposing new and harsher penalties against homosexuality. Discrimination in any form is wrong, and the United States must say so unequivocally. Many Ugandans are voicing concern that such a law will create witch-hunts against homosexuals, and hinder the fight against HIV/AIDS. Over the years the United States government, including the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has worked closely with Ugandans to combat HIV/AIDS and other public health issues; we value our relationship with Uganda’s people. Given the pressing HIV/AIDS crisis Uganda is facing, this bill is extremely counterproductive.”