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President Obama Condemns Signing of Anti-Gay Law in Uganda, Warns it Will 'Complicate' Relations

President Obama has released a statement regarding the reported signing of the anti-homosexuality bill by Ugandan President Museveni.

Says Obama in the statement:

Troops_obamaAs 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.

The bill penalizes anyone who aids or abets a known homosexual, and punishes homosexuality with life imprisonment.

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  1. It had better 'complicate relations' to the tune of lost millions, if not billions, we give to Uganda. That loss should begin the very minute such a law is signed.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Feb 16, 2014 5:34:55 PM

  2. Damn I love our president.

    Posted by: Arbogast | Feb 16, 2014 5:42:22 PM

  3. @ MIKE RYAN :

    You got it right. It is the only lesson they will respect.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 16, 2014 5:47:25 PM

  4. Cut off all their aid! Good job, Mr. President.

    Posted by: Håkon | Feb 16, 2014 5:51:31 PM

  5. It's not even that Russia or Uganda are passing legislation criminalizing gays. It is that they are passing legislation criminalizing ANY group or class of people. It is appalling and a step back for any society.

    Posted by: Chrislam | Feb 16, 2014 5:54:41 PM

  6. Thank you Mr. President!!!

    Posted by: Tom | Feb 16, 2014 5:59:26 PM

  7. I love it when the president gets pissed off.
    I wish he'd do it more often.

    Posted by: woody | Feb 16, 2014 6:00:29 PM

  8. It's great we have such a strong ally in office. You go on the message boards on YouTube or Yahoo on a gay related article or video and while there are some positive messages, a lot of it is pure vile hatred directed at gays. You'd think we were living in Russia or Nigeria. Let's keep another strong ally in office come 2016 with Hillary!

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 16, 2014 6:04:09 PM

  9. It isn't just the passing of anti gay laws that is ignorant savagery.

    What is so dangerous is the whipping up of vicious violent hatred, the beating up, the targeting, the lawless dragging of suspects out of their houses.

    There is no pretence of the Rule Of Law or the rule of the new laws or the presumption of innocence until proved guilty.
    This is all about scapegoating the gays. It is visceral anti gay malice.

    And as in civil war Spain, where the Bishops stood with the fascists, where are the Church leaders denouncing the anti gay violence, where is the Bishop of Uganda coming out against these laws???
    How did these ignorant people become so vicious ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Feb 16, 2014 6:05:53 PM

  10. Well said Mr. President. We know that your Administration will be doing all that is reasonably possible to push Uganda in the direction of supporting human rights for all its citizens.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 16, 2014 6:37:37 PM

  11. I, too, am proud of our President.

    Having said that, at least 78 countries have laws penalizing homosexuality and at least six of those include the death penalty. (Does anyone have more current totals?)

    As we all know, radical right-wing Christians and Muslims support these laws and many of those people are Americans who travel abroad to encourage them. I, for one, think it should be illegal for any American citizen to visit another country for the purpose of encouraging discrimination toward and murder of LGBT people.

    Posted by: Bryan L | Feb 16, 2014 7:22:44 PM

  12. It's only words unless US financial aid is stopped and sanctions imposed like Iran. I won't hold my breath.

    Posted by: steve talbert | Feb 16, 2014 7:32:44 PM

  13. 1) how specifically does the prez intend to complicate these relations?
    2) how complicated will relations get with oil-soaked nigeria?

    Posted by: unokhan | Feb 16, 2014 7:46:48 PM

  14. Alas, simply cutting off their aid won't convince them that they're wrong--only that they're at our mercy. Instead, I'd suspend their aid and break it into packages that they can earn by proving their claims about homosexuality using widely accepted standards of scientific evidence and peer review--one aid package per claim. That would give them the opportunity to either prove themselves correct or convince _themselves_ that they are wrong.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 16, 2014 8:15:07 PM

  15. I'd been waiting for this statement from Obama. Good on him.

    Posted by: Richard | Feb 16, 2014 8:42:32 PM

  16. "complicate our valued relationship"

    Meaning that when nothing happens, Democrats will need to find complicated answers to hide simple cowardice.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 16, 2014 9:13:04 PM

  17. This Ugandan legislation was funded by the Christian Right in the U.S. See the movie 'God Loves Uganda' - we need to educate ourselves about how dangerous the Tea Party is to any civil rights, any 'differences', any 'other'. I spent 12 phenomenal days in Uganda in November 2013 - not one negative interaction or any comment on my 'gayness' - which sounds ridiculous to even type. My point: Uganda isn't the problem, the millions of dollars that the Tea Party and Christian Right are pouring into the desperately poor Ugandan economy is the problem. Obama's statement is a veiled overdue slap at the Tea Party and Uganda needs that reality check.

    Posted by: BrianNow | Feb 16, 2014 9:39:33 PM

  18. Though Obama admin. never specified any specifics before the law was passed, British PM Cameron has linked this to foreign aids. It is time for the British government to act.

    Posted by: Simon | Feb 16, 2014 9:40:41 PM

  19. so pull our ambassador and cancel all foreign aid going to Uganda

    Posted by: Grover Underwood | Feb 16, 2014 10:26:50 PM

  20. As usual we see some of the same posters with their typical knee jerk responses to the Uganda problem. Fortunately there are better minds in the Obama Administration attempting to deal with the situation. Cutting off all aid to Uganda is not a reasonable solution. Over 400,000 Ugandans receive life saving antiretroviral treatment funded by the USA. The Pentagon has over 100 Special Forces personnel in Uganda and spends millions in training, weapons and supplies for the Ugandan military in an attempt to root out terrorists in East Africa. There are economic development projects which help to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans, that are funded in part by the USA. Clearly we have some leverage in an attempt to move the Ugandan government in the direction of support for all human rights. However, this leverage has to be used wisely and often behind the scenes. It may make some posters feel better to vent their anger, but that contributes little or nothing to solving this problem.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 16, 2014 10:34:42 PM

  21. The gay community has never had a President who has been more supportive. I used to be a Clinton fan but hands down, Obama is my favorite.

    Posted by: Cary Chauvet | Feb 16, 2014 10:54:08 PM

  22. @andrew : something else to keep in mind is that sometimes pressuring a government in private discussions is better than doing it publicly - if done privately, they can back down without internal criticism. Given the history of colonialism, Africans may have a knee-jerk response against anything that seems like coercion from a country located on a different continent.

    It is more important to help gay Africans than to do something that makes us (i.e., members of the public) feel better but that is counterproductive in the long run.

    What do people think about doing something like offering college scholarships for U.S. or European colleges to gay Ugandans - that would get young gay Ugandans out of their country for a few years and help mitigate the damage until the policies can be changed. You can probably make it easy for them to apply discretely by using the Internet + encryption, with any sensitive information kept out of Uganda.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 16, 2014 11:06:47 PM

  23. @BILL: I totally agree with your first two paragraphs. Offering scholarships to U.S. and European Universities, to gay Ugandans, may be a good idea. However, how many Ugandans have completed H.S. and could qualify? Would offering scholarships to only gay Ugandans further alienate them from their fellow citizens by this preferential treatment? I don't know the answers to those questions. It would be a good suggestion to make to the U.S. State Dept. They would know better if it would be a help or a hindrance in furthering human rights in Uganda.

    Posted by: andrew | Feb 17, 2014 1:32:52 AM

  24. Andrew and Bill are correct, though scholarships would be a small band-aid unless accompanied by asylum. They couldn't really return without everyone knowing why they'd been gone, and it would essentially mean getting all young, educated gays out of Uganda. Not a viable solution.

    The US and UK have spoken and, for better or worse, a line has been drawn in the sand. Africa is being manipulated, as always, by Western/Christian forces with opposing views. This game has to end.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 17, 2014 2:26:27 AM

  25. @Paul R: they'd know they were gone, but not how they qualified. Andrew had a reasonable objection that there are some potential negative consequences. On the other hand we can offer scholarships for as many straight Ugandans as gay Ugandans, which would make it impossible to tell who was whom.

    It is probably a small number of people over all, but we'd basically be telling them that if they don't want talented people, we do.

    Posted by: Bill | Feb 17, 2014 3:19:35 AM

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