State Department Investigating LGBT Treatment In Uganda and Throughout Africa

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2010

Last January, we reported that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, asking them to “communicate immediately to the Ugandan government, and President Yoweri Museveni directly, that Uganda’s beneficiary status under AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act) will be revoked should the proposed legislation be enacted.” The legislation he’s referring to, of course, is the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill that is, as far as we are able to determine, awaiting its second reading before Parliament.

The State Department has now responded to Sen. Wyden’s request. In a letter dated Feb 22, 2010 and released by Sen. Wyden’s office, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma responded that the department has “identified this issue as a priority in our bilateral relationship” with Uganda (PDF: 112KB/2 pages):

We have reached out at the highest levels; Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson have discussed our concerns directly with President Museveni. In addition, our embassy in Kampala has been in close and regular contact with key political, media and civil society actors on the ground in Uganda, registering strong opposition to the bill and warning the Ugandans of potential consequences if it passes. The ambassador reiterated our concerns with President Museveni as recently as January 25, and Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero just visited Uganda on January 29. She met and offered support and encouragement to civil society groups opposed to the legislation and underscored our views to senior Ugandan officials. We are following this bill very closely.

In Museveni’s remarks urging Parliament to “go slow” on considering the draconian legislation, he cited a long conversation with Secretary Clinton in declaring that the bill was not just a domestic issue but also had foreign policy considerations.

Assistant Secretary Verma characterized Uganda’s proposed bill “a serious affront to internationally accepted human rights standards.” And interestingly, the State Department’s concerns aren’t limited to Uganda:

The State Department is also evaluating attitudes and laws that marginalize and criminalize and penalize the LGBT community in Africa more broadly.  We have asked all of our embassies in Africa to report on host country laws and pending legislation that criminalizes homosexuality.  In addition, our Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor has established a task force on LGBT issues to strategize a United States Government response to LBGT issues worldwide.


March 4th, 2010

Of course only time will tell how serious and committed the State Dept. will be on pursuing these issues, but, dang, I’m pleased to read this.

Priya Lynn

March 4th, 2010

Gay Republicans like to claim a Republican governement would have been just as good on LGBT issues as a Democrat one but there’s no way a Republican governement would have taken a stand against the abuse of LGBTs in Uganda and Africa. Bush refused to sign the U.N. resolution calling for the decriminalization of gayness claiming it would have limit U.S. freedom to pass laws. If a Republican was in power now they’d be looking the other way at the Uganda/Afric situation and claiming its “none of our business”.

Paul in Canada

March 4th, 2010

How true Priya. Here in Canada our ‘right-wing’ government is in the midst of denying they struck out a section on gay rights to our newly revised immigrant guide despite evidence through an access to information request that clearly demonstrates the Minister in charge directed the change.

Deny, lie, deny you lied, deny, lie…

Priya Lynn

March 4th, 2010

I hadn’t heard about that Paul. This evil conservative government greatly distresses me. Unlike in the States they weren’t elected to pursue a social conservative agenda and they have no right to push that crap on our country.

Fred in the UK

March 4th, 2010

Just playing Devil’s Advocate in reply to Priya Lynn…

I have yet to see any real response to the stand taken by the US Government regarding event’s in Uganda other than conciliatory noises from President Museveni. The U.S. has many times called for changes in other countries laws, so I agree that President Bush’s defence, of his refusal to sign the UN declaration (it wasn’t even a resolution), rings hollow. However all UN declarations are by definition no more than purely symbolic.

I fear that a Republican Government would be worse in terms of rhetoric on international gay rights but not in terms of actual achievement of change.

I hope events to come in Uganda prove me wrong.

Priya Lynn

March 4th, 2010

Time will tell Fred. I’d still much rather have a government that takes a stand for human rights than one that doesn’t even if the outcome is no different. One things for sure, if you you don’t oppose these outrages you most certainly will have no effect on them – that’s what the Republicans would have given to LGBTs.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts


Another Temporary Hiatus

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1954: "Perverts Vanish" From Miami

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.