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Obama denounces Uganda’s anti-gay bill: ‘A step backward for Ugandans’

“Enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda."
Sunday, February 16, 2014

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Barack Obama warned Uganda Sunday over its plans to further criminalize homosexuality, saying it would “complicate our valued relationship.”

Obama-AP-FileDefending gay rights around the world, as he has done at home, Obama said a bill that President Yoweri Museveni has pledged to sign will mark a “step backward” for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on the country’s commitment to protect the human rights of its people. It also would represent a serious setback for anyone committed to freedom, justice and equal rights, Obama said.

Obama said the United States stands for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights and believes people everywhere should be treated equally.

“That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality,” Obama said in a written statement issued from Southern California, where he was spending the weekend.

“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” he said. “It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.”

“Enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda,” he said, adding that the U.S. has conveyed that message to Museveni.

Homosexuality already is illegal in Uganda under a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex acts “against the order of nature.”

Museveni said last week that he plans to sign the new legislation, which has alarmed rights activists because it prescribes life imprisonment for acts of “aggravated homosexuality.” Those acts are defined as sex acts where one of the partners is infected with HIV, sex with minors or the disabled and repeated sexual offenses among consenting adults.

It was unclear when Museveni will sign the bill. Ugandan lawmakers passed it in December and Museveni since has been under heavy pressure to enact it. The measure enjoys broad support among Christian clerics and lawmakers who say it is needed to deter Western homosexuals from “recruiting” Ugandan children.

Susan Rice, the U.S. national security adviser, said Sunday on Twitter that she spoke “at length” with Museveni on Saturday night and urged him not to sign the bill.

The United States is Uganda’s largest donor, sending more than $400 million in aid annually in recent years. If Museveni signs the bill, the U.S. is expected to review its relationship with the country with an eye on finding ways to register disappointment over the law.

Uganda is one of many sub-Saharan African countries where homosexuals face severe discrimination, if not jail terms. Nigeria last month increased penalties against gays there.

Obama has made support for gay rights a hallmark of his presidency.

He supports same-sex marriage and his administration eliminated the Clinton-era ban on openly gay service in the military.

For his State of the Union address last month, Obama included basketball player Jason Collins, the first male athlete on a major U.S. sports team to announce that he is gay, among guests chosen to sit with first lady Michelle Obama. Obama has said Collins’ announcement marked a moment of progress for gays.

Obama also welcomed last week’s announcement by a University of Missouri football player and NFL hopeful that he is gay.

The president also has spoken out against a Russian law banning gay propaganda, and included prominent gay athletes on the U.S. delegations to the opening and closing ceremonies at the Sochi Olympics.

More on Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality bill is here.

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81 more reader comments:

  1. Now let’s DO something about it…

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:04pm
  2. When the law is signed…it is time to END ALL support of Uganda..ALL of it..close the pretty Embassy and the rest of the support…no more American dollars….

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:04pm
  3. Thank you obama now if you could stop to kill n enslave ppl.that wud b just great Tx! ! :D

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:04pm
  4. What?

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:10pm
  5. It would be amazing if he would do something about it. Dude needs to get angry.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:06pm
  6. Ok…now talk to Kansas

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:06pm
  7. first stop the aid then nuke em, if ever a continent needed population control it’s that one. they can’t seem to feed a single child let alone a dozen…

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:08pm
  8. Do you seriously think we need to commit genocide? What the Hell?

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:10pm
  9. i was kidding ;-p

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:11pm
  10. It's hard to tell. People say that kind of thing seriously about multiple countries.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:14pm
  11. yes, i know, need to be more careful with comments, it doesn't always come across correctly...

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:15pm
  12. How about denouncing all of the anti-gay legislation happening right now. Come on #potus!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:08pm
  13. My country (Brazil), still suffers from a lot of prejudice, but nothing to compare with Russia!

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:38am
  14. No one in any state in the USA is threatening to arrest any LGBT Americans. No one in any state in the USA is threatening to deny any LGBT Americans bail. Non one in any state in the USA is threatening to imprison any LGBT Americans for life. Get your priorities str8 or do you just not give a fuck about Ugandan gays because they are NOT white

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:48am
  15. Jessica, do you have no clue what they tried to pass in kansas? Hello?

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 5:43am
  16. Human rights in Uganda get down…………..

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:08pm
  17. This guy is a fucking joke. He talked about supporting gays in the last election to get his votes. And then nothing, typical politician

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:09pm
  18. Alex Papesh. This President has and is a very supportive of the LGBT community . We can now serve in the. Military Open and. Proud

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:15pm
  19. less talk, more action

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:18pm
  20. Herbs.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:25pm
  21. And yet we are paying them for perimeter security in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. Al Asad air base in Iraq had Ugandan security forces there, saw it with my own two eyes! Nasty hypocrite!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:27pm
  22. @alex papesh before this president we didn’t have any rights. At least now we have a lot. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You must be too young to know that we have gained so much and now the people who do victimize us will be handled criminally.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:38pm
  23. unless youre trans. no protections there. not even in schools.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:57pm
  24. President Barack Obama informs the world that he has indicated to President Yoweri Museveni that this anti- homosexuality Bill will complicate US relations with Uganda. And damn right it will. Because as an LGBT activist community we are going to go all out to hound anyone who does business with Uganda again. Mark my words! This will include stopping tourism in its tracks! Ugandans have said they prefer their sovereignty to peaceful international relations, and as Museveni has told his NRM Party that he is ready to go to war with world gays over this, he is then indicating he is ready for war with our President who supports us. They will then pay the price. Now let us hope that President Obama will open our doors to Ugandan refugees.

    Replied on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:49am
  25. OK he can denounce what is happening in other countries but what about our own. . Stays paying laws that allow discrimination. . When will people learn we can’t help others if we can help ourselves. Kind of like talking the talk but not walking the walk kind of thing.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:38pm
  26. compared to other countries...The USA is a safe heaven YES you have some states that can pass those laws and they suck alot... but think about these places I'd rather live in those states as a gay person then Russia or Uganda..were i can be beaten and put to death buy the STATE for being gay...

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:52pm
  27. Spot on Elaine, a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:05pm
  28. snake in the grass,,,ask obama what he thinks of the oil industry

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:35pm
  29. Cut off all aid to Uganda !!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:43pm
  30. yes and not just Kansas(so much for friends of Dorothy)

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:52pm
  31. Another reason why I love my president!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:52pm
  32. Thats all he can do at this point is denounce it and condem it… same with Russia. :/

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 8:55pm
  33. But what’s he going to do about Kansas’s nearly passed bill promoting discrimination against gay couples?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:02pm
  34. Try sorting your own country out first, Obama. Then you may have grounds to criticise others.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:02pm
  35. So he should say nothing and allow people to be murdered? What is with this mindset? I though we were supposed to care for the ENTIRE community, not just people in the US. Life is more than just about "Merica.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:21pm
  36. @sara Levine we now have full federal benefits, lgbtq crimes are considered hate crimes, we can get married it 13+ states, and all of this in less than 5 or 6 years. We have great progress! Do you see what’s going on in Russia, Uganda, and Nigeria? I think he has done a great deal. Maybe not as much as what other people want, but can you name one other President who has done all of this for us?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:03pm
  37. Were they ever going forward?
    I think they’ve been stuck in neutral for several years.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:16pm
  38. Actually, I think they've been stuck in reverse.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:32pm
  39. i love him!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:19pm
  40. Think of the young people rotting in a cell, abused, sentenced for the rest of their lives for being gay. Let’s fly a fleet of cargo planes over to pick up every gay individual in Uganda and save them. plausible ideas, not plausible ideas…hitting “like” increases awareness, but who is able to take action?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:19pm
  41. Finally!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:20pm
  42. (y)

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:40pm
  43. Ok so what about Kansas Mr. President?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:43pm
  44. THE WHITE HOUSE
    Office of the Press Secretary
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    February 16, 2014

    Statement by the President on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda

    As a country and a people, the United States has consistently stood for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. We believe that people everywhere should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love.

    That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.

    As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda. At a time when, tragically, we are seeing an increase in reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria, I salute all those in Uganda and around the world who remain committed to respecting the human rights and fundamental human dignity of all persons.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:52pm
  45. Gotta love our best president EVER!!!!!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:53pm
  46. ….I wasn’t aware of Uganda ever taking that many steps forward….

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 9:58pm
  47. Thank you President Obama.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:09pm
  48. How about denouncing Kansas and the other hater states?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:17pm
  49. Yeah well as much as what they're doing here sucks it's nothing compared to what's happening over there. People are being murdered. We are fighting for the right to marry/etc, but they are fighting for the right to LIVE. I think that trumps our problems just for a little while.

    Replied on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:15pm
  50. KEYSTONE XL…..Idle No More…

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:20pm
  51. Perhaps the American government should cut all international aid to that country!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:20pm
  52. Thank you Mr President !! Now for Nigeria & Malawi !! Please keep speaking out on this issue !!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:24pm
  53. I do believe that Obama will approve the “snake” …do you believe it or not? this will be Obama’s legacy

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:25pm
  54. Thanks to Scott Lively for his part also!

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:26pm
  55. It’s about time.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 10:46pm
  56. If any other minority group was being persecuted and imprisoned in this manner the UN and the allied troops would be there to stop it. Shame.

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:08pm
  57. I wonder if Mr Obama realizes that he doesn’t run Uganda?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:08pm
  58. Isn’t everything Uganda has done since christianity got a hold of it “A step backward” ?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:34pm
  59. If The Republican /Teabaggers Were Not Out To Stop His Every Move More Could Be Doone So Dont Put It All On Him This Is The First President To Be On Our Side So Know That During The Next Election Vote The Republicans Out NOW

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:38pm
  60. Yes but what about Kansas?

    Posted on Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 11:55pm
  61. I can’t believe the people on here, and I thought I was selfish FUCK Kansas, where I live in the state of Georgia we can’t get married either BUT I’m THANKFUL that I live in a country where it’s legal to have same sex relations to hold hands, kiss or being in a relationship with the same sex, unlike most countries in Africa and the Middle East where you can be in prison or dead! Stop complaining about it SHUT UP & WAIT, the US is going to have marriage equality, all the states are. WAKE UP count your blessings not your problems! Kudos to President Obama for calling Uganda out on their crap!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:09am
  62. Way to go President…Now fire the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria for stating that aid will not stop for that country after criminalizing Gays and allowing gangs to raid gays out if their homes to be beaten and murder because they want to clean the environment. What a moron! A country full of internet fraud and hacking.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:32am
  63. But I bet their still getting aid from the US….

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:38am
  64. What about Kansas ??

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:57am
  65. ;(

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:00am
  66. Can we just worry about us? How about we make it legal in ever state here before we go messing with other countries!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:09am
  67. USA gave Uganda $21.6 million last year in aid. I don’t want to see one of my tax dollars helping anyone in that country till they learn to stop hating LBGT people. They don’t have to like LBGT, just stop the cruel treatment, jail time and mob violence towards gays as the police look the other way or help. If President Obama doesn’t tell President Museveni Uganda’s policies on LGBT must be dialed back some or all aid will be cut off. Come 2016 there will be hell to pay for the Democrats. Rather burn my money then donate to the Democrats again.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:45am
  68. This just in…… Uganda calls USA’s gay rights victories as a step backward for Ugandans and an example of ethnocentricism.

    I agree it’s a step backwards but how about you campaign against said laws in your own country first?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:51am
  69. Uganda people like many other countries follow government policy and are powerless to do much. So outside pressure need to help change the systems there. Most Americans have no idea the power they have to change the system here. Just look at the sweeping changes in the marriage laws here. For those who complain, but can’t pick the phone or write a email to their representatives I have little respect. Here is the White House’s web site – http://www.whitehouse.gov/

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:58am
  70. They think we “Westerners” having nothing better to do then to recruit Ugandan children.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:27am
  71. How about not giving that country Billions of dollars in aide, until they get there shit together with HUMAN RIGHTS. NOT HUMAN ABUSE AND PUBLIC MURDER.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:33am
  72. You tell them Obama.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:50am
  73. It’s so nice of him to ‘denounce’ something….How about DOING something about it?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:07am
  74. Wow it took this long for that announcement?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:45am
  75. Helllllo
    What about Kansas ?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:50am
  76. Pls, would someone tell me what Potus is?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:52am
  77. As a country the USA should not give any aid to these contries

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:00am
  78. If it’s bad for one country it’s bad for all countries Mr President. Don’t complain about other countries if your not gonna do anything in the country you run.

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:15am
  79. Love our President!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:39am
  80. Why must there be condemnation for countries who do not want to be exactly like the USA?

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:53am
  81. My president!

    Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 at 4:53am