UPDATE: White House Denounces Proposed Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda

The White House released a statement to The Advocate on Friday that condemned pending anti-gay legislation in Uganda:

The president strongly opposes efforts, such as the draft law pending in Uganda, that would criminalize homosexuality and move against the tide of history.

The bill originally called for the execution of gay people charged as so-called “repeat offenders.” The bill also called for life imprisonment of anyone engaging in “homosexual activity.” Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity James Nsaba Buturo recently claimed, however, that the punishments had been curbed to prescribe more “refined” consequences.

U.S. legislators are now beginning to speak out on the brutal legislation. Chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) released the following statement on Friday:

I share the outrage of many political, religious and civic leaders in Uganda and around the world about the ‘anti-homosexuality bill’ before the Ugandan Parliament.  If enacted, this inhumane bill would sanction new levels of violence against people in Uganda based solely on their gender or sexual orientation.  Its passage would hurt the close working relationship between our two countries, especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Over the last month, I have conveyed these concerns to the State Department and directly to President Museveni, and I urge Uganda’s leaders to reject this bill.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also released a statement after he had come under fire for his reported ties to a clandestine group of Christian politicians called ‘The Family’ that had ties to anti-gay advocates in Uganda. Sen. Grassley provided the following remarks to The Iowa Independent on Friday night:

Based on what I’ve been able to learn about the legislation and from the stand point that I’m a born again Christian, I can tell you that I don’t agree with this un-Christian and unjust  proposal, and I hope the Ugandan officials dismiss it.

The independent publication The Box Turtle Bulletin reported on Dec. 4 that the State Department issued the following “guidance” in response to the anti-gay bill:

We are disturbed by violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and prejudice that are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity. We condemn human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur. We urge states to take all the necessary measures to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties– in particular, execution arrest or detention. If adopted a bill further criminalizing homosexuality would constitute a significant step backwards for the protection of human rights in Uganda.

GLAAD urges mainstream media to shine a light on the horrific anti-gay legislation that is currently pending in Uganda and expose the potentially lethal injustices that gay and lesbian Ugandans could face simply by being who they are.

Updates will be posted to GLAADblog.org as they become available.

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