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Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe says Uganda should abandon 'harsh' anti-gay bill

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe met with Ugandan president in January but did not discuss bill to impose strict criminal penalties for homosexual activity.
by Chris Casteel Modified: February 19, 2014 at 11:00 am •  Published: February 19, 2014

— Sen. Jim Inhofe, a frequent visitor to Africa who has a long relationship with the president of Uganda, said Tuesday that he hopes the country abandons “harsh” legislation to establish prison sentences for homosexual activity.

Inhofe, R-Tulsa, said in a statement to The Oklahoman, “I certainly disagree with the controversial legislation that Uganda may enact in the coming days, and it is my hope that the country will abandon this unjust and harsh legislation.”

Inhofe traveled to Uganda last month with other members of Congress and met with President Yoweri Museveni, according to an Inhofe press aide. However, Donelle Harder said Inhofe did not raise the matter of the anti-gay bill. She said he focused his discussion with Museveni on the status of the Lord's Resistance Army, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Status of Forces Agreement between Uganda and the United States.

President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday saying his administration had told Museveni that enacting the legislation, which would level criminal penalties, including the possibility of life in prison, for homosexual activity, would “complicate our valued relationship with Uganda.”

The president said, “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.”

$400M in U.S. aid

The United States provides about $400 million per year in aid to the country.

According to Reuters, Museveni has not said when he would sign the legislation. The wire service also quoted one Ugandan official as likening Obama’s comments to blackmail.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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