Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has agreed to meet with American experts to discuss his nation’s draconian anti-gay law which has triggered international outrage, the top U.S. diplomat said Tuesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry told US students he had talked with Museveni recently and he “committed to meet with some of our experts so that we could engage him a dialogue as to why what he did could not be based on any kind of science or fact.”
“He welcomed that and said, ‘I’m happy to receive them and we can engage in that conversation.’ And that’s what we’re going to do,” Kerry added.
Last month Museveni signed off on one of the world’s toughest anti-gay laws, despite warnings from his Western allies, which state that “repeat homosexuals” should be jailed for life, outlaw the promotion of homosexuality and require people to report on gays.
Kerry has likened the new law to anti-Semitic legislation in Nazi Germany and warned it could damage ties with Washington.
“The enactment of the homosexuality act was a step backward to Uganda. The law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stressed Tuesday.
“It reflects poorly on the country’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS.”
The U.S. administration was already looking at ways to rein in its aid to Uganda as punishment for the law, and had decided not to resume what she called “top-off” payments on the salaries of 18 top health officials.
“These are individuals at the top who are speaking on behalf of implementing the policy,” Psaki told reporters.
But she added Ugandan gay rights activists had specifically asked Washington not to cut off its aid to the Ugandan people.
“A lot of the aid that we provide goes to ensure services for things like lifesaving health and medication for HIV/AIDS, to bring justice to those responsible for atrocities like the LRA,” she said.
“So we want to make sure that actions we take don’t have a detrimental impact on the Ugandan people.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]