Wednesday, February 26, 2014

from todays white house press briefing: question on Uganda

Q Thanks, Jay. As you know, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, signed today an anti-gay bill that in some cases would penalize homosexual acts with life imprisonment. I saw your statement, but my question is, what details do you have about the impact of signing that bill on U.S.-Uganda relations? The President earlier said signing that bill would complicate the relationship. Will that affect the $400 million a year the United States gives to Uganda in foreign aid?

MR. CARNEY: I think I would point you to our statement, which I believe reflects our strong disagreement with the decision to sign that legislation. It’s a sad day for Uganda. Instead of standing on the side of freedom, justice, and equal rights for its people, today, regrettably, Ugandan President took Uganda a step backward by signing into law legislation criminalizing homosexuality.

As President Obama has said, this law is more than an affront and a danger to the gay community in Uganda; it reflects poorly on the country’s commitment to protecting the human rights of its people and will undermine public health, including efforts to fight HIV/AIDS. We will continue to urge the government of Uganda to repeal this abhorrent law and to advocate for the protection of the universal human rights of LGBT persons in Uganda and around the world. What I can tell you about steps the United States might take in response is that we are undertaking a review of our relationship with Uganda in light of this decision.

Q When will that review come to an end?

MR. CARNEY: I’m sorry?

Q When will that review be complete?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have a timetable for you, but we are undertaking a review.

Q And National Security Advisor Susan Rice -- you tweeted out last week I think that she had a conversation with President Museveni about the bill. I was wondering, were there any conversations with her and President Museveni? Or between President Obama and President Museveni, either immediately prior to or after the signing of that bill?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I think that in that conversation, Ambassador Rice made clear our very strong view on this matter, and unfortunately and regrettably the President signed into law this legislation, which has caused the reaction that we gave today.

Yes, Wendell.