BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – The US State Department's envoy to Africa has met with Ugandan leaders to raise concerns about the so-called Kill the Gays bill, the Washington Blade reports.
Ugandan parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who has promised to pass the bill as a "Christmas gift" to her country, was one of the leaders with whom Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met over the weekend.
The bill has reportedly been placed on the parliamentary schedule for debate and eventual vote.
“As we have regularly said, we call on the parliament of Uganda to look very carefully at this because Uganda’s own Human Rights Council has made clear that if this were to pass, it would put the country out of compliance with its own international human rights obligations,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says. “And so, Assistant Secretary Carson had a chance to make that point again and our strong opposition to this, to the president, to the parliament and to key decision makers in Uganda.”
While Ugandan MP Medard Segona said last week that the bill no longer includes the death penalty, Nuland says the State Department would not be able to verify that until the details of the bill are officially released, according to Pink News.
"I don’t know that we have actually seen the version that passed committee,” Nuland told the Blade. “They’ve been a little bit close hold about this, partly because there’s been so much controversy in the international community. So our concern is about any criminalization of homosexuality, obviously.”
The Blade says Nuland did not "directly answer a question" about whether the US State Department would consider cutting aid if the bill becomes law. Instead, she said the focus is to "raise awareness of the concerns within Uganda about this bill, so we don’t get to that stage.”
The Blade includes a transcript of the exchange between Nuland and reporters.
Carson has raised the bill with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on previous occasions. Museveni had given assurances he would stop its progress.
Landing image: US embassy Tanzania