RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — President Obama warned Sunday that a harsh new anti-gay law in Uganda would “complicate our valued relationship” with the east African country, which receives hundreds of millions of dollars a year in U.S. aid.
In a last-ditch effort to derail the measure, national security advisor Susan Rice called Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni over the weekend and urged him not to sign the measure. The law includes a provision of life in prison for “aggravated homosexuality.”
But amid news reports that Museveni was intent on pressing forward, Obama said Sunday that the move would be “a step backward for all Ugandans” and would reflect poorly on the country’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people.
“As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda,” Obama said in a written statement released Sunday. “At a time when, tragically, we are seeing an increase in reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria, I salute all those in Uganda and around the world who remain committed to respecting the human rights and fundamental human dignity of all persons.”
In his first term, Obama dispatched 100 U.S. troops to Africa to help hunt down the leaders of the brutally violent Lord’s Resistance Army in and around Uganda. In addition, the U.S. gave more than $256 million in foreign assistance to Uganda last year.
Obama did not say specifically what changes might come as a result of the decision. But an administration official said Sunday that, if Uganda enacts the legislation, the White House would “conduct a review” of the country’s relationship with the U.S.