Congressional Hearing Addresses Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda

The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission – an arm of congress devoted to promoting, defending and advocating internationally recognized human rights norms that reflect the role and responsibilities of the United States Congress – discussed proposed anti-gay legislation in Uganda that would call for the execution of some gay and lesbian Ugandans.

(To read more about Uganda’s proposed anti-gay legislation, click here)

D.C. Agenda reports today that Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, was among the people who testified at the hearing:

Johnson said the women’s caucus in the Ugandan parliament is supporting the legislation and opposition from the first lady — as well as President Obama — could influence women’s groups in Uganda to drop their support.

“I’m wondering if there is women leaders within the U.S. Congress — and perhaps the first lady herself — might be able to play some role in having discussions about the potential impact of this bill — not just on human rights, but on HIV prevention within the country,” Johnson said.

Openly lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis; Pictured Left) chaired Thursday’s hearing.

“I do think it is important for us to listen and receive guidance from people on the ground in Uganda — not just thinking from afar what to do,” D.C. Agenda quoted Baldwin. “I think there’s probably additional ways where we can empower local activists, local voices in Uganda at the same time as we speak crystal clear our dedication to human rights for all [people] across the globe.”

Rep Baldwin also issued a press release yesterday that said Reps. Jared Polis, Barney Frank, and 90 other members of Congress sent letters to President Obama and Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni which expressed their opposition to the anti-homosexuality bill.

The Dallas Voice published the content of those letters here.

Among others who testified was an official from the State Department, Edge Boston reported:

"Ensuring human rights for sexual minorities is perhaps the truest barometer of the full integration of human rights principles in a society, because their enshrinement in law and integration into societal norms and practices are not always a matter of popular opinion," said Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

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

Updates can be found on GLAADblog.org

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