Saturday, December 19, 2009

Briefing on the Ugandan Anti-homosexuality Law

Approximately 40 people representing NGOs such as Council of Global Equality, IGLHRC, Africa Faith and Justice network, Human Rights First, Global Forum, AMFAR, and the Anti-Defamation League attended a briefing yesterday by Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson on the anti-homosexuality law being considered by the Ugandan legislature.

A/S Carson called the legislation in Uganda “draconian” and described his discussions on at least two separate occasions with Ugandan President Museveni and high ranking officials including the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister about this legislation. A/S Carson said, “The U.S. condemns in the strongest terms any violations of human rights and we see the criminalization of homosexuality as a violation of these basic human rights.” He said this legislation was not mentioned as a “sidebar issue” in his meetings but as an issue of concern on the level of Sudan and other major AF issues. In at least one instance, he sought out the Museveni solely to discuss this legislation with him. Museveni gave him assurances he would oppose the legislation.

Kerry Johnson from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council expressed concern about similar legislation in other African countries as a fallout from the Ugandan legislation, including legislation passed quickly in Burundi and legislation being discussed in Rwanda and Kenya. A/S Carson said he had already discussed this with a high ranking person in Rwanda and asked that he convey his and Secretary Clinton’s concerns to Rwandan President Kagame.

He said the Department is not yet considering consequences if the law is passed, preferring to focus on keeping it from being passed. He did say that a cable or email will be sent to all Ambassadors determining if such laws exist or are being considered in their countries, and that we would address those countries where these laws exist. And he said countries with such laws will now have that listed in the Human Rights Report.

“We will not have a double standard of being opposed to this legislation in Uganda and silent about it somewhere else, ” A/S Carson said.

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