BY Kerry Eleveld
January 19 2010 7:00 PM ET
Nearly 90 Congress members have signed on to a letter that will be delivered to President Barack Obama Wednesday urging him to publicly oppose a bill in Uganda that would impose the death penalty for certain acts of homosexuality.
"We consider this to be an international human rights issue, requiring a strong response by you and the United States," begins the letter, an effort that was spearheaded by out represenatives Jared Polis, Tammy Baldwin, and Barney Frank.
Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, but the new legislation would extend the punishment for engaging in gay sex to life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for those who do so repeatedly or while HIV-positive — acts termed "aggravated homosexuality” within the bill.
The letter applauds previous statements from both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the White House condemning the pending legislation but asks President Obama to go further.
"Specifically, we ask that you speak out publicly against this proposed legislation to bring further attention to the issue. Also, given your popularity in Africa, speaking out publicly against Uganda and Rwanda’s proposed anti-homosexual legislation is likely to garner more concern and attention from not only African nations but internationally. We further ask that you give diplomatic weight to your call for homosexuality to be decriminalized worldwide. While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international treaties prohibit discrimination and specify that all enjoy the right to privacy, over 80 countries currently have in place sodomy laws or other legal provisions that criminalize the LGBT community. We believe that standing up for the rights of all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, reflects the fundamental precepts of our country."
The letter goes on to ask President Obama to disclose the efforts his administration has taken since last March to help move other countries toward fully protecting the rights of their LGBT citizens.
Full text of the letter can be read after the jump.
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