The United States said Friday it is urging Uganda’s leadership to block a bill that would criminalize homosexuality.
“We believe that this legislation is a violation of human rights,” Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told reporters after a meeting with gay and lesbian activists at the State Department.
Carson expressed concerns that passage of the bill could encourage other African countries to take similar actions, and warned it would be a setback in fighting AIDS.
The proposed law, currently before parliament, would introduce some of the toughest anti-gay punishments in the world, with a minimum life sentence for anyone convicted of having gay sex, and a mandatory death penalty if they were HIV-positive.
The draft bill would also introduce a three-year prison sentence for anyone who was aware of homosexual activity and failed to report it to authorities.
Carson, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, said the U.S. government had been in touch with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni to express its opposition to the measure, which was put forward by a member of parliament in the East African nation.