Ugandan leader willing to talk to ‘experts’ about homosexuality

‘Maybe we can reach a point of reconsideration’: John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry says Uganda’s president is willing to meet with American “experts” to talk about the African country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act and the flawed reasoning used to justify its enactment.

According to BuzzFeed, which moderated a March 18 forum at the State Department, Kerry revealed that Yoweri Museveni, who signed off on the measure in February after saying he was convinced people are not born gay, “committed” to the prospective talks.

“Maybe we can reach a point of reconsideration,” Kerry suggests in reference to the Ugandan law.

In January, before Museveni assented to the measure, he had also given a delegation from the Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights the assurance that he would reject it, calling the measure “fascist.” But he went ahead and signed off on it the following month.

Kerry notes that the approach to Museveni is part of the strategy the Obama administration is adopting in response to legislation that discriminates against LGBT people in several countries, BuzzFeed says.

Prior to his statement, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) submitted a letter to the administration, calling for a rethink of how assistance is disbursed to countries that criminalize homosexuality.

The letter states, “We are especially concerned about the enactment of draconian laws in Uganda and Nigeria in recent weeks and the effect that may have in other countries, namely Kenya [and] Malawi, where legislatures are reportedly beginning to consider similar draft laws.

“Such laws not only violate human rights, they endanger lives and undermine public health efforts, most notably programs to address HIV/AIDS, which must be conducted in a non-discriminatory manner in order to be effective.”

Among its recommendations, the caucus called for assistance to be redirected from governments that sanction discriminatory laws to civil society organizations, a review of organizations that have supported such laws, and for American embassies to provide protection to people threatened by anti-gay laws.

The caucus also called for the US to work jointly with the United Nations, the African Union and other relevant regional organizations to press for the repeal of anti-gay legislation and to use their influence to discourage the implementation of such measures.

Natasha Barsotti is originally from Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. She had high aspirations of representing her country in Olympic Games sprint events, but after a while the firing of the starting gun proved too much for her nerves. So she went off to university instead. Her first professional love has always been journalism. After pursuing a Master of Journalism at UBC , she began freelancing at Xtra West — now Xtra Vancouver — in 2006, becoming a full-time reporter there in 2008.

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