President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama has, for the first time, publicly come out against the draconian anti-homosexuality bill that is before Uganda’s parliament.
Obama made the remarks on Thursday in Washington at the National Prayer Breakfast, which is organised by The Family; a conservative Christian organisation that has been linked to the architects of the bill.
“We may disagree about gay marriage, but surely we can agree that it’s unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it’s here in the United States, or… more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda,” the President said.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the bill in a speech at the annual invite-only function which is attended by Washington heavyweights.
“In the Obama administration, we are working to bridge religious divides,” Clinton told the Prayer Breakfast.
“We are standing up for gays and lesbians, who deserve to be treated as full human beings. And we are also making it clear to countries and leaders that these are priorities of the United States… I recently called [Ugandan] President Museveni, whom I have known through the Prayer Breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda.”
Last month, David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who drafted the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill and introduced it into Uganda’s parliament, had said he had been invited to attend the breakfast. Organisers later retracted Bahati’s invite to the event.
While the breakfast was underway, the first American Prayer Hour, which sought to pray for Uganda and all countries that criminalise LGBT people, was also taking place in 17 cities around the US.
Moses speaks at the American Prayer Hour press conference
A press conference in Washington on Tuesday to launch the American Prayer Hour included Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church and saw Moses, a gay Ugandan man who is seeking asylum in the US, speaking with a brown paper bag over his head out of fear for his safety.
He shared his story of being raped by police and being too afraid to go to the hospital for treatment. “It breaks my heart that I have to leave my family and loved ones to seek asylum in this country simply because I am gay. Even as I speak, gay people are being persecuted as a result of this proposed law against gay people. I can only imagine how bad it will be if the bill actually passes,” he said.
The Anti-Homosexuality Bill would impose the death penalty on anyone who has consensual and safe sex with an HIV positive person or if found repeatedly guilty of homosexual acts. It would also maintain the current life sentence for gay sex as well as making it illegal to lobby for LGBT equality, provide any support for LGBT people or even write about LGBT rights. People will also face jail time if they do not turn in gays and lesbians to the authorities.