July 31, 2014 at 12:14 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
State Dept. official: Anti-gay laws ‘not consistent’ with African values

Uganda, gay news, Washington Blade

A State Department official on Wednesday said anti-gay laws in Uganda and other African countries are “inconsistent” with the continent’s core values. (Image public domain)

A State Department official on Wednesday said anti-LGBT laws in Africa are “not consistent” with the continent’s core values.

“We certainly see it as that is not consistent with core African values; core African values of respect for human difference and diversity,” said Tom Malinowski, assistant secretary for the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, during a Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights forum at the National Press Club in D.C.

Malinowski noted that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and other African heads of state who support anti-LGBT laws are “resurrecting and building upon a set of laws that were imposed on Africa by colonial powers” during the 19th and 20th centuries.

“That irony seems to be lost on them,” said Malinowski.

Malinowski’s comments come ahead of a summit with African heads of state that will take place in D.C. next week.

The Council for Global Equality, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and other advocacy groups on July 25 urged President Obama to highlight LGBT rights during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit.

“In the lead up to the African leaders summit, this is a time that we and members of civil society and the U.S. government really has to think about how we are addressing sexual minority rights issues overseas, particularly in Africa,” said Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

Museveni in February signed a law under which those who are convicted of repeated same-sex sexual acts face life in prison. Jonathan a few weeks earlier signed a bill that, among other things, punishes those who enter into a same-sex marriage in Nigeria with up to 14 years in prison

The White House subsequently cut aid to Uganda that funded HIV/AIDS programs and other initiatives. The Obama administration last month announced a travel ban against officials who are responsible for anti-LGBT human rights abuses in the East African country.

Both Museveni and Jonathan are among the 32 African heads of state who have received invitations to attend next week’s summit.

“The American government has come out very strongly in Uganda,” said Richard Lusimbo of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a Ugandan LGBT advocacy group. “Let’s not forget our brothers and sisters in Nigeria.”

Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal in 37 African countries. Homosexuality remains punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and portions of northern Nigeria and Somalia.

Secretary of State John Kerry in February said he was “deeply troubled” when Gambian President Yahya Jammeh compared gay men to “vermin” during a speech that commemorated his country’s independence from the U.K. Cameroon and Zimbabwe are among the other African countries that have faced criticism from the U.S. and other nations over crackdowns on LGBT rights advocates and other issues.

“We know that there are thousands of people across the African continent who are standing up for an end to violence and for full equality for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First in a press release that announced the release of a report on LGBT rights in Africa that his organization wrote with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

African LGBT rights advocates continue to accuse Scott Lively and other U.S. evangelicals of stoking homophobic and transphobic attitudes on the continent.

The Center for Constitutional Rights in 2012 filed a federal lawsuit against Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda that accuses the Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate of exploiting anti-gay attitudes in the East African country before Parliamentarian David Bahati in 2009 introduced the so-called Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The measure — which Museveni signed — once contained a proposed provision that would have imposed the death penalty upon anyone found guilty of repeated same-sex sexual acts.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Posner last August ruled Sexual Minorities Uganda’s lawsuit can move forward.

“There is a need to support us in this kind of work we are doing by holding accountable your fellow citizens,” said Lusimbo.

Media reports indicate the Ugandan Constitutional Court on Thursday could potentially issue a ruling in a case that challenges the Anti-Homosexuality Law.

Malinowski told the Blade at the end of the National Press Club forum that he and Kerry discussed the anti-gay statute with Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa last month, two days after his unanimous election as president of the 2014 U.N. General Assembly.

“We conveyed our very strong views about the need for this law to go away for our relationship with Uganda to improve,” said Malinowski.

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

    • Norm A. L. McStraight

      Yes, the ultimate in doublespeak.
      Certainly the Africans wouldn’t be the subject matter experts on their own values.

      Instead, the globalist social engineers will put their foot in their mouths, with complete and utter nonsense: “respect for human difference and diversity.”

      If ONLY Africa could unite, but unfortunately, this will take far longer than the near future.
      For me to list: Hutu/Tutsi, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Somalia/Kenya, Congo, Sierra Leone, etc, etc…
      would take several more paragraphs, but, hey, that’s just empirical observation on the part of regular citizens void of delusions of grandeur which is the hubris of the Dept of State.

      Western countries would do well to follow the healthy restrictions on obscenity and perversion these leaders uncowed by the gay agenda propagated by Hollywood and the Maddow/Cooper talking heads.

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