Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin

A US congresswoman has called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to publicly condemn the draconian anti-gay bill now before Uganda’s parliament.

Tammy Baldwin, who is only one of three openly gay members of Congress, sent a letter to Clinton calling for her to take action on the proposed legislation that would see people convicted of “aggravated homosexuality” punished with the death penalty.

The law would also mete out jail sentences to those who in any way lobby for, advocate for or even write about LGBT equality.

“This egregious bill represents one of the most extreme anti-equality measures ever proposed in any country and would create a legal pretext for depriving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans of their liberty, and even their lives,” says Baldwin in the letter, which was also signed by Representatives Gary Ackerman, Howard Berman and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Baldwin notes that the legislation would hamper the fight against HIV/AIDS in Uganda and “would raise serious questions about the effectiveness” of US funding of HIV/AIDS programmes in the country, estimated to have been $300 million last year.

The letter concludes with the signatories saying: “It is our fervent hope that you will use every means possible to convey to Ugandan leaders that this bill is appalling, reckless and should be withdrawn immediately.”

Clinton has previously committed the Obama administration to actively supporting LGBT equality around the world.

Meanwhile, France has come out firmly against the Ugandan bill. In a statement, the French foreign ministry expressed its “deep concern regarding the bill currently before the Ugandan parliament”.

“France reiterates its commitment to the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the fight against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” said the ministry.

According to the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo boasted at a press conference last week that the proposed law would make the country “a leader” in the fight against “gay culture in Africa”.

“We don’t believe that human civilisation can be defended by having anal sex,” Buturo said, adding “on the issue of homosexuality, let them forget [about human rights]. The government has started biting”.

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