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March 21, 2014

United States to Talk Science with Uganda

By Simone Salvo

In a speech last week, Uganda’s first lady Janet Museveni congratulated bishops of the Church of Uganda for their anti-gay work. After thanking God for providing leadership, she posed a rather strange question: “If cows did not practice homosexuality, how could we, the human beings, start arguing over homosexuality?”

The Ugandan leadership is finding justification for the new and highly discriminatory Anti-Homosexuality Act in bogus science. President Yoweri Museveni cited nonsensical facts such as “there is no definitive gene for homosexuality” as rationale for signing the law on February 24, 2014.

With Museveni’s compliance, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is sending a team of real scientists to refute Uganda’s studies and persuade the government to reconsider the legislation. Kerry announced at a State Department forum on Tuesday, “I talked personally to President Museveni just a few weeks ago, and he committed to meet with some of our experts so that we could engage him in a dialogue as to why what he did could not be based on any kind of science or fact, which is what he was alleging.”

Will hard science be enough to counter homophobia?

Many western countries are showing their opposition to the law by drawing closed their purse strings. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden have all severed foreign aid to Uganda and the World Bank has frozen a $90 million loan.

The Obama Administration is still weighing this option while designing a diplomatic response tailored specifically to Uganda. Human Rights First urges the United States to continue to demonstrate leadership on global LGBT rights by working to stop passage of further discriminatory laws and promote the protection of LGBT rights as human rights worldwide.