U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson (image, top), met with officials of the Uganda government over the weekend and asked them to “look very carefully” at their “Kill The Gays” bill, noting its passage into law will put the country of Uganda out of compliance with its human rights obligations, according to an exclusive report by Chris Johnson at the Washington Blade:
Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokesperson, said during a daily briefing Monday that Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met with high-profile leaders in Uganda “over the weekend” and raised concerns about the bill, which among other things would punish homosexual acts with life in prison. The questioning was initiated by the Washington Blade.
“As we have regularly said, we call on the parliament of Uganda to look very carefully at this because Uganda’s own Human Rights Council has made clear that if this were to pass, it would put the country out of compliance with its own international human rights obligations,” Nuland said. “And so, Assistant Secretary Carson had a chance to make that point again and our strong opposition to this, to the president, to the parliament and to key decision makers in Uganda.”
Nuland also affirmed media reports from last week that the legislation has passed out of the Legal & Parliamentary Affairs Committee, saying, “Our understanding is that a version of the bill has now passed the committee in Uganda.”
International diplomats and activists know they must tread lightly and avoid appearing as if they are interfering with internal Uganda politics if they wish to keep the bill from becoming law.
Many around the world are suggesting the U.S. and other countries should cut foreign aid to Uganda. America gives approximately $480 million to Uganda annually.
“Some countries, such as Britain and Sweden, have threatened to cut foreign aid to Uganda if this bill becomes law,” the Blade’s extensive report notes:
U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Scott H. DeLisi was quoted in a Ugandan newspaper as saying the United States has “decided to continue giving aid to Uganda,” but that was in response to misuse of foreign aid and not the anti-gay bill.
Nuland declined to directly answer a question from the Blade about whether the State Department was considering whether to cut foreign aid from Uganda if the legislation becomes law.
“I’m not going to get into any hypothetical situations,” Nuland said. “Our focus now is on raising awareness of the concerns within Uganda about this bill, so we don’t get to that stage.”
Asked by another reporter about whether a pledge to cut aid would be “a good, strong point to make” if the United States opposes the bill, Nuland said she won’t “make prospective points from the podium here about where we might go if this bill passes.”
Nuland refocused attention to talks within the country, saying, “I think there is a very intense conversation going on inside Uganda about this, and the far better course of action would be for the bill not to pass.”
Uganda politicians, especially Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, have made a point of wishing to appear unmoved by threats to defund their foreign aid.
Kadaga said the internationally-controversial bill will become law soon as a “Christmas gift” to Ugandans.
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