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Obama denounces Uganda for law criminalizing gay sex

Says it will hurt African nation’s relations with U.S.

- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2014

President Obama denounced Uganda on Sunday for approving a law that will impose lengthy criminal sentences on people convicted of engaging in homosexual acts and said the law "will complicate" U.S. relations with the East African nation.

Mr. Obama said the legislation “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.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he will sign the legislation, which imposes a 14-year prison sentence on people convicted of a first homosexual act and the possibility of life imprisonment for similar subsequent offenses.

Mr. Obama said his administration has urged Mr. Museveni to reconsider.

"As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda," Mr. Obama said in a statement. "The anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda."

White House national security adviser Susan E. Rice wrote on her Twitter account Sunday that she spoke to Mr. Museveni on Saturday night, telling him the law would be "a huge step backward for Uganda and the world."

Laws against homosexuality and anti-gay pogroms are both widespread among African nations.

The U.S. president said examples of bias against the gay community are on the rise worldwide.

"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," Mr. Obama said.

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