While South Africa remained silent, Britain and Canada told the Ugandan government at last week’s Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad and Tobago that its proposed new anti-gay law is unacceptable, even though the matter was not placed on the event’s official agenda.
According to the Canadian press, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that he met with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni during the summit and communicated “Canada’s deep concern and strong opposition to the bill.”
“We deplore these kinds of measures. We find them inconsistent with any reasonable understanding of human rights,” he told reporters.
The UK’s Gordon Brown also reportedly expressed his dissatisfaction with the anti-gay bill. The Telegraph reports that a Downing Street source confirmed that “The Prime Minister did raise it and you can take it that he was not supportive of the idea.”
Trinidad’s Prime Minister Patrick Manning opposed placing the bill on the summit’s agenda, describing it as an “internal matter.”
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which is before the Ugandan parliament, would retain the current life sentence for homosexuality, would impose the death penalty for those who have gay sex with disabled and HIV positive people and would ban any expression of support for gays and lesbians.
There have been no reports that President Jacob Zuma, who also attended the meeting, addressed the matter with the Ugandan president. According to the Government Communication and Information System Zuma “expressed satisfaction with the direction and future of the Commonwealth Group.”