Obama: Uganda's Anti-Gay Legislation Is a 'Step Backward'

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-02_f7ba90f9d0.jpgOfficial White House Photo by Pete Souza (INDIAN WELLS, Calif.) -- President Obama Sunday criticized Uganda's new anti-gay legislation, which Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said he will sign. In a statement released by the White House, Obama said he is "deeply disappointed" that Uganda is poised to ban gay relationships, warning that the law will be a "step backward for all Ugandans" and pose a danger to gays there.

"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."

As The Guardian reported, the new law allows life prison sentences for various public expressions of gay sexuality and allows prison sentences for those who fail to report gay people to authorities.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who is in Rancho Mirage this weekend with Obama and a team of aides after the president met with King Abdullah of Jordan at the Sunnylands estate on Friday, said she spoke with Museveni and urged him not to sign the law. Rice criticized it in a series of tweets Sunday: "Spoke at length with President Museveni last night to urge him not to sign anti-LGBT bill. #Uganda"; "Told him it will be huge step backward for Uganda and the world."; "Deeply saddened this decision will put many at risk and stain Uganda's reputation."

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