Editor’s note: For the most up-to-date news on Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill, visit our Uganda section.
“The Department of State opposes the draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which we view as manifestly inconsistent with international human rights obligations,” Hilary Renner, a spokesperson from the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. State Department told The New Civil Rights Movement Tuesday afternoon by phone. “We continue to monitor activity surrounding the proposed legislation, including the public debate.”
“President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, and U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier have all spoken out in opposition to the bill,” Renner said. “These public statements underscore the U.S. government’s strong support of the rights of the LGBT community in Uganda and throughout the world.”
The following text was received via email from the State Department by The New Civil Rights Movement:
“We are not alone in our calls to stop this bill. Many from the international community have also expressed shared concern about the draft bill. And Uganda’s own Human Rights Commission issued a report in October 2010 calling the bill unconstitutional and inconsistent with international law. Many civil society groups in Uganda have advocated against this legislation, and we continue to support those efforts.
“We urge Ugandan lawmakers to reject this bill and, instead, to safeguard the human rights of all Ugandans and ensure that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity provides a legal basis for discrimination or persecution.
“The White House, the Department of State, and our Embassy in Kampala have been very active in speaking up, both privately and publicly, against the bill and promoting the protection of human rights for LGBT individuals in Uganda.
“Public statements by President Obama, Secretary Clinton, and Bureau of African Affairs Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson have urged Uganda to safeguard the human rights of all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation.
“We meet regularly with human rights advocates and representatives of LGBT groups to solicit their advice on how we can best support the protection of human rights in Uganda.
“We continue to monitor the situation closely and are reviewing how we would respond to the passage of this legislation.
“Stating our views about the draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill does not amount to meddling in Uganda’s parliamentary affairs. Our statements are grounded in international human rights law and the obligations that it entails for all states, including Uganda and the United States.
“If adopted, a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda. Respect for human rights is key to Uganda’s long-term political stability and democratic development, as well as its public health and economic prosperity.
“Human rights are also a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. The White House, the Department of State, and our embassies and consulates overseas will continue to advocate for greater respect for the human rights of LGBT individuals, and we will continue to speak up when we are concerned about abuses, such as those that would be encouraged by or follow from the legislation proposed in Uganda.”
Editor’s note; An earlier version of this article identified the State Department official as Hillary Rosen. Her name is Hilary Renner and we apologize for the error.
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