WASHINGTON, Feb 17 – US President Barack Obama warned Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni against enacting anti-gay legislation Sunday, calling it a “step backward” that would complicate ties with Kampala.
Obama, who was in California for a holiday weekend of golf, issued a strong statement saying he was “deeply disappointed” in the Ugandan leader’s apparent plans to move forward with the bill.
“We believe that people everywhere should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love,” Obama said in a statement.
“That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality,” he added.
“The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people.”
The anti-gay legislation cruised through Parliament in December after its architects dropped an extremely controversial death penalty clause.
The measure, which has been greeted with international condemnation, would criminalize the promotion or recognition of homosexual relations.
Obama suggested that the Ugandan president – a key regional ally for both the United States and the European Union – risks damaging his country’s ties with Washington if he signs the bill into law.
“As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda,” Obama said.
Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice wrote in a series of tweets that enacting the law “will put many at risk and stain Uganda’s reputation.”