Kerry to Uganda: Repeal anti-gay law — or else

Secretary of State John Kerry demanded Monday that Uganda “repeal” its new anti-gay law and warned that the State Department has begun a “review” of U.S. assistance to the impoverished East African nation.

“This is a tragic day for Uganda and for all who care about the cause of human rights,” Kerry said in a statement. “Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law.”

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President Yoweri Museveni signed into law on Monday legislation enacting tough prison sentences for homosexual acts, which were already illegal in Uganda. Kerry threatened to cut the more than $400 million the country receives in annual U.S. economic and military aid as a result.

“As President Obama stated, this legislation is not just morally wrong, it complicates a valued relationship,” Kerry said. “Now that this law has been enacted, we are beginning an internal review of our relationship with the Government of Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of our engagement, including assistance programs, uphold our anti-discrimination policies and principles and reflect our values.”

Lawmakers will also examine whether to respond in upcoming discussions about the fiscal 2015 spending bill, a Senate staffer told The Hill. Similar countries have passed anti-gay legislation with few if any repercussions — Museveni signed the bill into law just six weeks after U.S. aid recipient Nigeria enacted similar legislation — sparking calls for a review of U.S. aid.

“While I recognize and value Uganda’s leadership in promoting stability in the region, the United States must not stand by as democratic values and humanitarian principles are increasingly disregarded by Uganda’s political leadership,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel on Africa, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), said in a statement Monday.

“America’s rhetoric must now be met with action,” he said. “For there to be no diplomatic or developmental consequence for the enactment of these laws would be to set a dangerous precedent for America’s foreign policy.”

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