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February 12, 2010

Obama condemns Uganda anti-gay law at prayer event

Washington, D.C.--Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used their opportunity to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4 to vilify a proposed Ugandan law that would impose the death penalty on �habitual� violators of the country�s ban on homosexuality.

The bill would bar �promotion� of homosexuality and would carry a three-year penalty for those who failed to turn in a gay man or a lesbian within 24 hours.

AIDS activists warn than the prohibition on �promoting� homosexuality would cripple prevention efforts in the east African nation.

Obama referred to the law as �odious,� while saying that, regardless of one�s stance on same-sex marriage, targeting someone because of their sexual orientation is �unconscionable.�

Clinton, who has attended every Prayer Breakfast since 1993 when her husband was the newly-minted president, spoke of the good that religion can do, as well as its darker side, when it is used to oppress.

�But religion, cloaked in naked power lust, is used to justify horrific violence, attacks on homes, markets, schools, volleyball games, churches, mosques, synagogues, temples,� she said. �From Iraq to Pakistan and Afghanistan to Nigeria and the Middle East, religion is used as a club to deny the human rights of girls and women, from the Gulf to Africa to Asia, and to discriminate, even advocating the execution of gays and lesbians.�

�So in the Obama administration, we are working to bridge religious divides,� she continued. �We�re taking on violations of human rights perpetrated in the name of religion. And we invite members of Congress and clergy and active citizens like all of you here to join us.�

�Every time I travel, I raise the plight of girls and women, and make it clear that we expect to see changes. And I recently called President Museveni, whom I have known through the prayer breakfast, and expressed the strongest concerns about a law being considered in the parliament of Uganda,� she stressed.

The same week, a resolution in the House of Representatives put forward by Democrat Howard Berman of California and Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and a matching Senate resolution from Russ Feingold of Wisconsin and his Republican compatriot Tom Coburn of Oklahoma were both introduced. The House measure has 39 co-sponsors, and the Senate version currently has four.

The Senate version calls on Uganda�s parliament to reject the proposed law, while the House version urges all nations to decriminalize homosexuality.

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