Clinton Urged to Reaffirm Support for LGBTI Ugandans in Meeting with President
New York City – Today, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Ugandan President Museveni, Human Rights First urges her to press him to support the fundamental rights of LGBTI persons in his country. The Ugandan authorities have intensified their crackdown on LGBTI organizations and civil society groups, with one Minister recently announcing that he would seek to ban at least 38 nongovernmental organizations he claims are promoting gay rights. For the past few years the legislature has been considering a bill that would severely increase the criminal punishments for same-sex consensual relations. “Secretary Clinton’s meeting with President Museveni is a perfect opportunity for her to reaffirm that ‘gay rights are human rights,’ as she declared in her landmark speech on LGBT rights in December,” said Human Rights First’s Paul LeGendre. “While gay rights are advancing in some countries, more efforts must be made to counter a backlash from those on the side of bigotry and intolerance. The right to freedom of assembly and speech is the right of all individuals, not just those with whom the Ugandan government agrees. Secretary Clinton should make it clear that the United States will not stand by while the Ugandan government implements draconian restrictions on gay Ugandans.” Last week, a group of 46 American Christian leaders issued an open letter expressing solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans in the face of “increased bigotry and hatred.” Signers of the letter included former U.S. Ambassador to Uganda and the Vatican Thomas P. Melady, President of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good Rich Cizik, and Sojourners President Jim Wallis. The letter noted that, “Regardless of the diverse theological views of our religious traditions regarding the morality of homosexuality, the criminalization of homosexuality, along with the violence and discrimination against LGBT people that inevitably follows, is incompatible with the teachings of our faith.” In June it was reported that security operatives in Uganda infiltrated LGBTI groups and planning meetings in an effort to gather “evidence” of their activism. LeGendre notes that these reports detail yet another incident in a pattern of efforts to silence the LGBTI community. “These actions should be publicly criticized by the United States and other nations that have prioritized the protection of all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity,” concluded LeGendre.