It’s not like the Obama administration is doing absolutely nothing about Uganda’s Kill The Gays bill. While hate leaders on the ground there are spewing absolute nonsense, two American diplomats arrived in Kampala to meet with gay activsts there to plot strategy.
On March 3, the U.S. Bureau of African Affairs’s Geeta Pasi (its East Africa director) and Bruce Wharton (its public affairs director) invited five gay rights leaders to the American embassy to learn “what the embassy and government at large can do to stop the bill,” relays minister and activist Brown Kiyimba.
According to Kiyimba, gay leaders suggested a range of strategies, including imposing economic sanctions on the country and convincing US Evangelicals who are popular in Uganda to speak out more forcefully against the bill. One member of the Civil Society Coalition even urged a Ugandan visit from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Kiyimba said the image of Clinton smiling and shaking hands with Ugandan politicians would make it look like she endorses their anti-gay views. Civil Society members asked the US government to support the coalition’s work against the bill, but no money was promised at the meeting. Diplomats did, however, promise to consider granting American visas to Ugandan gay leaders so they can travel to the US this summer and raise awareness about the legislation.
Kiyimba said the diplomats spoke very little at the meeting. “Mostly they wanted to hear from us,” said Kiyimba.
While both President Obama and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton have denounced Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, this appears to be the administration’s first on-the-ground effort to see what can be done to fight it. “I take it as a start,” says Kiyimba. “It’s just a beginning. The Obama administration is seriously concerned about the bill and committed to help.”