U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone Thursday with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to voice concern over the African nation's discriminatory law, known as the "jail the gays" law, which was officially enacted earlier this week.
Kerry expressed the American government's displeasure with the law, while also raising the concern that the "law poses a threat to the safety and security of Uganda's LGBT community, and urged President Museveni to ensure the safety and protection of all Ugandan citizens," according to a statement from the White House. The law makes homosexuality punishable with prison sentences, up to life in some cases.
Museveni and Kerry also discussed how the law would negatively affect public health efforts, including those to address HIV and AIDS, as well as on tourism, and foreign investment in Uganda.
Shortly after the bill was signed into law, several other governments made the decision to cut or suspend aid to Uganda, which relies heavily on foreign assistance. Early this week, the Norwegian, Dutch, and Danish governments canceled a total of $26 million in aid to Uganda. Days later, the World Bank indefinitely delayed action on a $90 million loan to the nation because of the legislation.
As reported Thursday, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress as well as former member Barney Frank had spoken to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to share their concerns about the law. "While we appreciate the difficult decisions President Kim has to make and their impact on the lives of many in the developing world, many members believe that such a blatant act of discrimination should not go unnoticed," Pelosi aide Drew Hammill told BuzzFeed.
Yesterday the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and this year's report had a greater focus on LGBT rights than past ones. Also, earlier this week Kerry likened the new Uganda law to Nazi Germany's persecution of Jews and South Africa's apartheid policy.