On Saturday, following a meeting with a bunch of fellow activists the evening before with Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, his wife Mary and Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, President of St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, we implored our network of friends, activists etc. to write a letter to Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State, Johnnie Carson to speak out loudly and publicly to Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, head of state and head of the Ugandan government, to strongly encourage him to permanently shelve the “Kill the Gays” legislation.
Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality bill, a draconian piece of legislation that further criminalizes homosexuality by imposing the death penalty on anyone previously convicted of homosexuality, is HIV-positive or engages in sexual acts with people of the same sex, is to be considered by Ugandan Parliament on September 7, 2011.
I would really like to thank everyone who took the time and effort to spread the word and/or contact Secretary Carson. Our urgent drive to ensure a response to our request and provoke action by the State Department. Secretary Carson received copies of the letter from not only the United States, but Britain, Serbia, Sweden, South Africa and Uganda to name a few. Indeed a very clearly targeted, global effort that produced results.
The following is the State Department’s strong, unambiguous, and important response to our request:
Thank you for your email expressing your concern about an anti-homosexual bill that may be introduced shortly in the Ugandan parliament. We too are concerned about the passage of any legislation in Uganda (or anywhere else in Sub- Saharan Africa) that would criminalize or punish homosexual activities between consenting adults.
We believe that gay and lesbian citizens should enjoy the same rights and individual freedoms as other citizens. The Department of State has spoken out clearly and repeatedly against this type of discriminatory legislation in Uganda, and we will continue to do so.
In this regard, I have spoken to the most senior officials in the Ugandan government about this issue, and stand ready to add my voice as required in the future. Our ambassador and embassy in Kampala will continue to monitor any anti-gay and lesbian legislation and we will speak out forcefully to prevent its passage.
I will pass your letter to our ambassador in Kampala, who may provide you with more information on this specific bill. Thank you again for your interest and your concern about this issue.
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.
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