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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

Inhofe began traveling regularly to Africa about 15 years ago, and goes to the continent at least twice a year, visiting a variety of countries. Inhofe told a U.S. House committee in 2005 that his interest was “more of a Jesus thing,” but he has since sought to downplay the role of his faith and focus on policy issues.

In his statement on Tuesday, he said, “Many know I have a special place in my heart for Africa. My work with Uganda started many years ago to help bring an end to the Lord's Resistance Army and defeat Joseph Kony, who for decades has been kidnapping, mutilating and forcing African youth to become child soldiers in terrorizing Northern and Central Africa.

Fighting outlaw army

“Through efforts with my colleagues in the Senate and the House of Representatives, I have been able to secure resources to support Ugandans, who have been the largest troop contributor to pursuing the elimination of the LRA. This is where my focus and relationships with Ugandan officials have been.”

The statement issued by Inhofe on Tuesday is very similar to the one he made in 2011 when the anti-homosexuality bill was under consideration by the country’s parliament. At that point, it included death as a possible sentence.

“I do not, nor have I ever, supported or condoned this legislation,” Inhofe said then. “It is my hope that Uganda will abandon this unjust and extraordinarily harsh legislation.”

Reuters reported that homosexuality is already illegal in 37 African nations.

An earlier version of this story, relying on information from Inhofe’s communications director, reported that the senator had not met with the Ugandan president last month. On Feb. 20, the aide said that information was mistaken and that Inhofe and other lawmakers had met with the president.

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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