An asylum seeker from Uganda covers his face with a paper bag in order to protect his identity as he marches with the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force during the Gay Pride Parade in Boston, Mass. on June 8, 2013.
Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Obama condemns Ugandan anti-gay bill, issues warning

Updated

President Obama issued a statement on Sunday urging Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni not to sign a new anti-homosexuality bill into law. The legislation, which Uganda’s parliament approved back in December, would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment. Musevini has said that he will sign the bill.

President Obama said that he was “deeply disappointed” to hear of the legislation, and that enacting it would “complicate” Uganda’s relationship with the United States.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda,” President Obama said. “It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.”

White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice also spoke out against the law. On her official Twitter account, Rice announced that she had reached out to Musevini directly and urged him not to sign.

President Obama’s statement also made note of “reports of violence and harassment targeting members of the LGBT community from Russia to Nigeria.” Last month, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law banning any kind of same-sex relationships. In the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, hosted by Russia, President Obama repeatedly hinted at U.S. opposition to the country’s anti-gay policies by meeting with local LGBT activists and announcing that openly gay delegates would be attending the Olympics.

Read the president’s full statement below:

As a country and a people, the United States has consistently stood for the protection of fundamental freedoms and universal human rights. We believe that people everywhere should be treated equally, with dignity and respect, and that they should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential, no matter who they are or whom they love.

That is why I am so deeply disappointed that Uganda will shortly enact legislation that would criminalize homosexuality. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda, once law, will be more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda. It will be a step backward for all Ugandans and reflect poorly on Uganda’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people. It also will mark a serious setback for all those around the world who share a commitment to freedom, justice and equal rights.

As we have conveyed to President Museveni, enacting this legislation will complicate our valued relationship with Uganda. 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.

Barack Obama, Russia and Uganda

Obama condemns Ugandan anti-gay bill, issues warning

Updated